Pat Duffy National Cup Semi Final 

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 79

DBS Éanna 70

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors will take on C&S Neptune in the Pat Duffy National Cup final after they overcame the challenge of DBS Éanna in the semi-final at Neptune Stadium on Saturday evening. In a game where both sides had periods of dominance and scoring runs, it was a hat-trick of three pointers from Fergal O’Sullivan in the final quarter that ultimately proved decisive to see the Warriors through.

The Warriors got off to the best possible start with Aaron Calixte firing down a three with the first score of the game and Eoin Quigley following that up with a typical step to the board. Hilary Nets opened the Éanna account before Devin Gilmore launched himself at the board with a showstopping dunk to spark the game into life. The Warriors response was swift with scores from Daniel Jokubaitis, Ron Elksnis and Nikola Roso keeping the Tralee side ahead, but Éanna replied to move ahead with a three from Neil Lynch and three inside scores from Stefan Zecevic. The sides were level at 19-19 when Brandon Cotton fired in the third of his three consecutive baskets but a Zecevic three pointer on the buzzer had Éanna 22-19 up at quarter time.

Nikola Roso, making his return from injury, imposed himself on the game early in the second with a dominant display of forward play hitting a score and six from six from the line but Éanna replied with a run of scores from Alex Dolenko and Gilmore bookended by threes from Mark Reynolds and Romonn Nelson that prompted Warriors Coach John Dowling to call a time-out. The short reprieve helped the Warriors weather the storm and when Quigley and Jokubaitis added it was back to a one score game. The Warriors were struggling to hit shots from outside but despite that the momentum shifted back their way when Calixte hit his second score of the game and Roso fired in two from under the board before Éanna Coach Darren McGovern was also forced to call a time-out to try to stem the Tralee tide. Éanna settled again and in the final act of the quarter Mark Reynolds hit two from two from the line to see his side lead 43-40 at the half time break.

The Warriors defensive effort moved up a notch early in the third with Kieran Donaghy dominating the exchanges under his board. At the other end the Tralee side were finding scores a little easier to come by with Quigley and Roso in range, and when Jokubaitis added his third of the day the Warriors took back the lead for the first time since early in the game. Zecevic and Nelson combined to keep Éanna on terms but the Dublin side were now in foul trouble and Quigley and Roso took full advantage from the line. The outstanding Quigley then found the time to plant his feet to hit a huge three following an Éanna turnover and then stepped his way to the board to see the Warriors take a four-point 58-54 advantage into the final quarter.

Quigley continued his rich vein of form early in the fourth but Éanna embarked on a game changing run sparked by a Dolenko steal and lay-up to take the initiative back. Dolenko was on the mark again before Reynolds fired in a three from the corner and suddenly Éanna led 65-60 with five minutes left in the contest. The Dublin side’s defensive set up literally dared the Warriors to shoot from distance, and when captain Fergal O’Sullivan accepted the invitation, he drilled a stunning effort from mid court to light the fuse for a Warriors run to the line.

O’Sullivan followed his first with his second two minutes later, but Neil Lynch replied with a three pointer of his own to wrestle back the lead for Éanna. However, that would prove to be the Dublin side’s last score of the game as O’Sullivan proceeded to complete his breathtaking hat-trick of threes in a game winning cameo. The Warriors saw out the win by keeping Éanna scoreless for the remainder of the game with Kieran Donaghy capping a terrific defensive display with a score, Nikola Roso completing a top scoring performance of 24 points and Aaron Calixte and Daniel Jokubaitis stepping up to hit clutch free throws to ensure safe passage to the Cup Final in Tallaght on Saturday week.

Top scorers: Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Nikola Roso 24, Eoin Quigley 19, Fergal O’Sullivan 9

DBS Éanna: Romonn Nelson 17, Stefan Zecevic 13, Alex Dolenko 10, Mark Reynolds 10

Next up for the Garvey’s Tralee Warriors is a return to Super League action with a cross conference away trip to face Killester on Saturday next the 15th January in the IWA in Clontarf with tip off at 3.00pm.

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