Bord Gais Neptune ended a 21-year wait for a SuperLeague Cup with an epic performance that proved too much for UL Eagles at a packed National Basketball Arena.
Neptune ran out 85-65 winners.
Inspired by a boisterous following that had made the journey up from Cork, Bord Gais Neptune enjoyed a dream start. Along with a thunderous slam dunk from Darren Townes, the Cork men had everything go their way in the early exchanges with only Scott Kinevane in any sort of form for Eagles.
The star of the semi-final with his six three pointers, Gary Walsh, had the Neptune fans on their feet at the end of the first period, a big three helping his team to a 23-11 lead going into the second.
With Eagles staring a huge half-time deficit in the face, star guard Rob Taylor ingnited the defending champions when they were most in need mid-way through the second quarter. As their team offence stalled, Taylor created individually while getting his hand to sloppy Neptune dribbling or passing.
Taylor’s play was the key to a mini-Eagles revival that culminated in Neil Campbell converting a four-point play after being fouled behind the arc by Ger Noonan. The resulting free throw had his side back to within two.
After leading for the majority of the first half, Neptune then deservedly created a counter run as baskets from the inspired Michael McGinn and Ian McLoughlin had them leading 43-30 going into the third quarter.
As neither team really controlled the third quarter, the outstanding storyline of the period was unquestionable the outstanding play of the ever-industrious McGinn for Neptune. Not known for his scoring, McGinn led the Cork charge and lead all scorers with 22 heading into the fourth, while the teams still now had 15 between them, the score was 60-45 with the final ten minutes left to play.
As Eagles’ uncharacteristically stagnant office continued to stall, Neptune’s greatest worry would have been the foul trouble that sent star American Townes to the bench where he stayed for the first five minutes of the fourth.
It did not seem to matter however, as this was Neptune’s night. A fast-break basket from captain Ger Noonan epitomised the form his Cork side was in. Spinning down the lane, Noonan threw an off-balance reverse shot that dropped, eliciting a huge roar from a crowd now beginning to believe their 21-year wait for cup glory was coming to an end.
While Eagles battled manfully right to the end, it was never to be their night and as their long-suffering supporters sang in the stands, Neptune were able to enjoy the last minutes of their eventual 85-65 win.