By John Coughlan
Neptune are on their way to the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght as they won out 90-75 over UCD Marian in their Hula Hoops U18s National Cup semi-final in Cork this morning.
Eli Lenihan, Sean McCarthy and Kelvin O’Donoghue were the stand-outs for the hosts, combining for a whopping 74 points in an all-round solid display from the two young Irish internationals.
UCD also had some big displays, with Paraic Moran leading the scoring charge with 24, while Luke Gilleran finished out with 22 points.
A close and competitive first quarter saw nothing separating the teams, with Sotiris Miltiadis and Jamie Muldowney knocking down big scores for UCD Marian, while Sean McCarthy, David Varma and Kelvin O’Donoghue all hit their stride early for the hosts, to see them lead by just two at the end of the first, 20-18.
A huge second quarter from the hosts as Eli Lenihan and Sean McCarthy combined for a huge 20 points as they put on a scoring masterclass for Neptune.
Super work in transition from the hosts saw them stretch out their lead, but Luke Gilleran was again on hand for Marian to keep them in range, adding eight for his side, while Paraic Moran delivered two big scores, including a crucial three just before the half to see them trail by 10 at the break, 47-37.
A big third quarter from both sides followed, with O’Donoghue, McCarthy and Lenihan dominating the scoring for Neptune and opening up a good run of scores to extend their lead. Good work from Moran, Gilleran and Muldowney at the other end kept the scores coming in, and some big stops for the Dubliners in the closing stages helped limit the damage, as Neptune finished the quarter 74-60 to the good.
The high intensity continued, with Neptune’s Eoghan Sheehan working hard on the boards to get some good stops, while McCarthy kept the scores raining in for Neptune.
Good work again from Muldowney, Moran and Gilleran kept Neptune on their toes, but the hosts held firm and won out 90-75 in the end.
Speaking afterwards, Neptune’s Keith Daly said: “It was a great game. UCD are a fantastic team, and we knew they can shoot the ball so we put a lot of pressure on their guards. We sped up the game and it worked for us.”
”Top scorers Neptune: Eli Lenihan 27, Sean McCarthy 26, Kelvin O’Donoghue 21
Top scorers UCD Marian: Paraic Moran 24, Luke Gilleran 22, Jamie Muldowney 11