DBS Eanna and Templeogue only have a short hop to make across the M50 to the National Basketball Arena in a few weeks’ time, setting up a huge royal rumble for the men’s Hula Hoops Pat Duffy National Cup title.
For Eanna, they are continuing to live the dream in their first year back at Super League level as they booked their place in their first ever men’s cup final with a 78-63 point win over Garvey’s Tralee Warriors.
“We played their game, and we beat them at,” said head coach Darren McGovern afterwards.
“This is my first time ever here – I’d only been to watch one National Cup semi-final before in my life and now I’m here as a head coach, and I swear I’m a bundle of nerves and wrecked.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m so happy and so proud. The performance levels from what we did in Tralee last week compared to today was totally different – a rebounding team, a fighting team. It is just one of those moments you have to enjoy.
“We are there now and just have to see what happens.”
An extremely close first quarter saw nothing between the sides as they slowly began to work each other out. Defensive pressure was to the fore as despite good scoring from Josh Wilson and Stefan Zecevic for Éanna and good work at the other end from Paul Dick and Eoin Quigley saw the game tied at 14 points apiece.
The low-scoring continued into the second quarter, with Zecevic and Wilson again leading the charge for Eanna, with Mark Reynolds adding a good score. With scores at a premium at either end, it was again Paul Dick and Quigley leading the charge, while monster work under the boards from Andre Berry saw Tralee edge a slender 24-26 half time lead.
The third quarter continued in the same vein, but this time Wilson managed to work himself some great space, and begin to hit Warriors where it hurt, clocking up 11 points in the period. Zecevic was key inside for Éanna adding to his tally well, while at the other end, Quigley was the main offensive threat for Tralee. Daniel Jokubaitis hit five points for the Warriors in the quarter but it was Éanna who led going into the last, 47-41.
A huge start from Éanna in the fourth kept momentum firmly in their favour, with Zecevic, Hillary Netsiyanwa and Wilson in superb form to keep them ahead. Warriors replied with superb work from Jokubaitis and Quigley, but a big press on defense from Éanna kept Warriors fighting for every single board and ultimately, it was free throws down the stretch that widened the margin at full time, as Éanna knocked down 10 free throws in the closing stages to win out 78-63 and book themselves a place in Tallaght.
Templeogue, meanwhile, shaded Coughlan C&S Neptune 78-75. Speaking afterwards, head coach Mark Keenan stated: “I’ve mixed emotions. I don’t think we played very well, but it’ll sink in soon that we actually won.
“Semi-finals can be games like that, you still have to try and win them, we found a way in the fourth quarter to get in front. Neil [Randolph] hit a massive three to put us in the lead and we got a lot of energy from that. I am delighted, I’m thrilled we got through, but we will need to play a lot better than that.”