Swords Thunder celebrate winning the Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup. Picture: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

GRIFFITH Swords Thunder’s hopes of adding the Superleague playoff title to the National Cup title won in January came to an end last Saturday evening, falling 66-64 to Garveys Tralee Warriors in Letterkenny.
They fought back to within a point of the Kerry side with 35 seconds to go with Alex Dolenko dropping a big three-pointer.
But Tralee held their nerve with Kieran Donaghy running down time and drawing a foul and subsequently nailing one of his free throws with three seconds to go.
Swords could not land a basket from the last play and Tralee were through to Sunday’s final where they duly prevailed. Thunder had led 59-58 with under four minutes to go before the Warriers made their crucial series of plays, Trae Pemberton adding to Donaghy’s influence to land six key points without reply.
Earlier, Jose Maria Gil Narbon had landed 17 points for Swords with the usual support from Isaac Westbrooks and Kevin Lacey.
Nonetheless, the ALSAA-based club can reflect on a fine third season in the top tier of Irish basketball, winning the National Cup and finishing second in the regular season table in the Super League.
“We look back at only our third season in the Superleague, once again, as a very proud year both on and off the court,” coach Dave Baker said.
“This year’s team were a special basketball team and a pleasure to coach, they were focused, and even more important a great bunch of men and teammates.”
He went on to hail the support he received in the background from his staff.
“It’s not often seen or said but the work done in the background to keep Thunder as one of the top teams in the country never ends and wouldn’t be possible without the management of Ger O’Leary who has but blood sweat and tears into this team over the years.
“This year we had the addition of Rob Kearney in charge of strength and conditioning and workouts who has really helped us reach such a high level. Emily Crawley joined us this season along with the voice of ALSAA, Abdul Mikael as announcer; we’re delighted that all management team will be returning next year.
“We look ahead to next season and as we have done each year we hope to be an even better team representing Swords, Fingal and the Thunder.”
He also thanked the Swords fans as well as sponsors Griffith College, Swords basketball club’s committee, ALSAA Sports Complex, Holywell Sports, Raw Fitness and Basketball Ireland.