Mens U20 National League – Semi Final

Tralee Warriors 77

Limerick Celtics 76

Tralee Warriors U20 Squad

Defending champions Tralee Warriors are back in the Mens U20 National League final for the second year in a row after their title defence put to the ultimate test and right down to the wire before they prevailed by a single point over Limerick Celtics in a pulsating semi-final at Moyderwell last night.

Celtics threatened to spoil the party for the huge crowd gathered at the home of St. Brendan’s as they got off to a flying start and led 13-5 midway through the first quarter. Baskets from Cian Gleeson, Philip Kearney and a double each from Matthew Barry and Dennis Matthews allied to a full press had the Warriors in disarray early on. Olaf Michalczuk hit the opening score from distance before Evan Boyle arced in the first of his five majors to cut the gap to 15-9 but Limerick pressed again and were finding scores at will through Kearney, Jack Golden, Gleeson and Kearney and despite late efforts from Michalczuk from inside and out and Eddie Sheehy with his first, the visitors held a commanding 31-17 lead at quarter time.

The Warriors fired their way right back into the contest with a much better second quarter that saw Josh Osayanrhion, Donal O’Sullivan and Sheehy combine for an early dozen points with Celtics keeping the pressure on with a major each from Kearney and Gleeson. Osayanrhion thrilled the crowd with an incredible step to the board that sparked a Warriors run that saw them hit 10 points in row for a combination of Sheehy, Creedon, O’Sullivan and Michalczuk turning a 14 point deficit around to see the sides level at 43-43 at half time.

Eoin Creedon’s tough basket early in the third had the Warriors ahead for the first time in the game and despite a quick reply from Golden, O’Sullivan tapped in to edge the Warriors back in front. Boyle launched his second major effort of the night but Barry replied instantly to leave the minimum between the sides with 3’00’’ left in the quarter. David Lucid made a big impact off the bench to open his account and quickly add another and when Brian O’Leary also fired in his first on the evening either side of a slalomed special from Sheehy, the Warriors took a 61-56 into the final quarter.

The Warriors looked more likely to prevail after Osayanrhion bossed the inside exchanges to score early in the fourth and when Michalczuk followed up by arcing in a cracker from the corner the lead was suddenly out to 10. Celtics replied in kind when Gleeson found the basket from outside and Matthews quickly followed from inside to cut the gap to 5. However after Osayanrhion took a heavy hit and capitalised from the line, Evan Boyle lit up to knock down two stunning threes in a row to put 13 between the teams with 3’00’’ on the clock. Celtics to their credit hit the next 10 unanswered points from Golden, Gleeson and Matthews to threaten an unlikely comeback. With 1’14’’ on the clock and the Warriors desperate for another score to settle the contest the chance fell again to Boyle who calmly nailed his third of the quarter and fifth of the night to push the Tralee side 6 ahead inside the final minute. Celtic fought bravely to the end and another Matthew Barry three and a late trip to the line for Oliver Barry cut the gap to a single point but the Warriors were not to be denied and held on, and only just, to secure a place in the Mens U20 National League final and their chance to retain their title in Tallaght in two weeks time.

The Warriors now wait to see who they will face when Éanna host Titans in the other semi-final to be played on Bank Holiday Monday in Colaiste Éanna with tip off at 1.30pm.


Tralee Warriors: Joshua Osayanrhion 17, Olaf Michalczuk 15, Evan Boyle 15, Eddie Sheehy 12

Limerick Celtics: Matthew Barry 17, Cian Gleeson 16, Dennis Matthews 13

Warriors Coach Luke O’Hea speaking to Warriors PRO Alan Cantwell
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