Warriors overpower Neptune to clinch first National Cup title

InsureMyHouse.ie Pat Duffy National Cup Final

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 88

C&S Neptune 75

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors are the InsureMyHouse.ie Pat Duffy National Cup champions after an 88-75 win over C&S Neptune at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Saturday night. The atmosphere at basketball HQ was electric with the Warriors faithful supporters providing incredible colour, noise and support as they cheered their team to their historic victory. The Cup win completes the Warriors’ trophy cabinet of national titles in their short but hugely successful history in Super League. The Warriors secured Champions Trophy titles in 2017 and 2018 and a Super League crown in 2019 and now add the truly coveted National Cup title to their impressive roll of honour.

In the hectic start to the contest both sides took a couple of minutes to find their feet and there was almost two minutes played before Daniel Jokubaitis fired in the opening score for the Warriors. Nils Sabata replied to get C&S Neptune on the board and Cian Heaphy followed that with a dunk that had the Cork fans out of their seats. Warriors captain Fergal O’Sullivan fired in a trademark three pointer with four minutes on the clock to help build a 9-5 lead. Sabata was on the mark again to reduce the deficit before Kieran Donaghy entered the fray to hit three scores and pull down four rebounds in a scintillating cameo before Miles Washington opened his account and Aleix Tarradellas hit a crucial three pointer late on to cut the Warriors lead at quarter time to 17-12.

Nil Sabata continued to prosper under the Warriors board and added either side of Eoin Quigley’s second score of the night and when Jokubaitis nailed a three pointer it sparked a run for Warriors that saw them push their advantage out to 29-17 midway through the quarter. The Tralee side edged further ahead after Quigley and Roy Downey swapped threes with O’Sullivan, Calixte and Quigley in range again to put them 38-23 up. A Roy Downey lay-up cut the gap but Jokubaitis had the final say in the quarter when he hit his second major score to leave his side 43-28 ahead at the long break.

Neptune needed to get on a run to have any chance of getting back into the contest and despite scores from Calixte, Nikola Roso and another three from Quigley, the Cork side hit scores from inside and outside from Downey, Tarradelles and Washington and the gap was suddenly down to just 8. But as quickly as the Neptune run began, it ended with Calixte, Roso and Quigley combining to restore the Warriors half-time lead. A Ricaud Gittens lay up and another three from Roy Downey kept the Cork side in the game but scores from Jokubaitis, Ron Elksnis and Brandon Cotton ensured that the Warriors took a game winning lead of 64-48 into the final quarter.

Jokubaitis brought the house down with a huge three early in the quarter and when Darragh O’Hanlon and Roso added Neptune were in deep trouble. Player coach Colin O’Reilly tried to bail out his side with a three but O’Hanlon produced a showstopping signature three pointer in reply to keep Neptune at arm’s length. Quigley and Donaghy both hit the five foul mark to end their involvement on the court but it seemed to spark Nikola Roso into action and the big forward obliged with back to back scores to see his side 78-57 ahead with four minutes left in the contest. The Warriors knew they had done enough and scores from Sabata and Downey were purely cosmetic. Two slaloming efforts from Calixte had the Warriors crowd dancing in the aisles and when Jokubaitis hit his last score of the game before being fouled out they stood to salute his stunning performance on the biggest stage in the game. Sabata hit two late scores and Tarradelles fired in another good three late on but when O’Hanlon and Calixte hit 4 for 6 from the line the Warriors Cup winning mission was complete.

Daniel Jokubaitis was thoroughly deserving as the MVP with his 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and in a delightful gesture gave the golden ball award to Warriors fan Adam Maher. Captain Fergal O’Sullivan sportingly recognised the enormous contribution to basketball in Tralee that Kieran Donaghy has been at the centre of for almost two decades by bringing his lifelong friend with him to accept the Pat Duffy National Cup in front of the Warriors adoring supporters.

On a night of nights, it was finally Warriors’ time.

Scorers: Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Daniel Jokubaitis (19), Aaron Calixte (19), Eoin Quigley (14)

C&S Neptune: Nils Sabata (21), Roy Downey (17), Aleix Tarradellas (11).

Next up for Garvey’s Tralee Warriors is a tough return to Super League action when they face the trip to Colaiste Éanna in Rathfarnham to play DBS Éanna in what is a renewal of rivalries following their Cup semi-final meeting in Cork earlier this month.

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