UL Eagles secured a memorable Men’s SuperLeague National Cup title in front of a sold out National Basketball Arena, running out eventual 72-65 winners after a gargantuan battle with UCC Demons.
Inspired by 'MVP' Robert Taylor, UL produced a remarkable second-half performance to secure a memorable victory.
An explosive opening saw the sides’ trade scores in quick succession.
Robert Taylor embodied everything that was good about UL in the early stages. Quick-minded, decisive and athletic, the American helped his side to a 10-7 lead mid-way through the first quarter.
Kyle Hosford and Ciaran O’Sullivan responded in style for Demons as the Cork side began to reel in the UL lead. Jason Kileen and Shaun Atupem were having a titanic tussle inside, the Limerick man coming out on top early on. There was little to separate the sides at the end of the first, Demons leading 21-20.
Demons began the second quarter in superb style, some wonderful combinations stretching the lead out to six.
Kyle Hosford and Ciaran O’Sullivan began to stamp their authority on proceedings with UL fighting desperately to keep the Cork side within range. It was still anyone’s game at the half-time interval, Demons leading 39-34.
Scott Kinevane got UL off to a flyer at the beginning of the third to reduce the deficit to three. Neil Campbell stepped up moments later to bring Eagles to within one.
Taylor brought the sides level soon afterwards as UL’s charge gathered further momentum. Taylor ran riot in the space of a minute to give Eagles a stirring four-point lead.
Shaun Atupem completed a tremendous lay up as Demons retook the lead. Matt Hall hit a superb shot on the buzzer to bring UL back to within two heading into the final quarter, the score 55-53.
A superb effort from Daniel O’Sullivan early in the fourth gave Demons a five-point lead.
UL lost the influential Jason Kileen mid-way through, but Eagles responded well with consecutive scores from Matt Hall and Scott Kinevane.
Taylor gave UL the lead soon afterwards before Neil Campbell raised the roof with a superb three to give Eagles a three-point lead with as many minutes remaining.
It was a stirring final quarter from Eagles, who rounded off in style through Matt Hall to secure a memorable 72-65 win after an epic contest.