Saturday 20 July 2019

Finest hour for mighty Bullets

Hula Hoops NICC Cup semi-final: Bullets 86 Leixlip Zalgiris 76

Drogheda Bullets are bound for their first ever Hula Hoops NICC National Men's decider after pulling out all the stops to beat a fancied Leixlip Zalgiris team in last Saturday's semi-final in Cork.

The Bullets, soon to become Drogheda Wolves as they merge with the local Sparks ladies club, are hoping to be granted entry to the National League next season and this result will certainly help their cause as they overturned a half-time deficit to reach the January 26th decider.

Reflecting on his team's triumph in the Mardyke Arena shortly after the game, a thrilled head coach Gerald Kennedy said: 'I can't describe the feeling at the minute.

'That was a great game to be a part of. For our club to be here, to be on this stage is fantastic.'

It was a game that delivered everything, from a superb display of three-point shooting - Zalgiris hit 11 of them before half-time - to thrills and spills galore as nothing separated the teams right down until the closing minutes.

Zalgiris, who have won three of the last four titles and draw heavily on the Lithuanian community around Kildare, were favourites to come through this semi-final, in what is a tournament for the leading teams who aren't already in the National League.

And they showed why in the first half as Marius Kasperavicius and Andrius Lekavicius in particular picked off some great scores on the way to a 42-40 lead with two of the four quarters completed.

However, a huge third quarter from Bullets saw them regain the lead going into the last period, and it was reigning Drogheda Independent Young Sport Star of the Year Padraig McGroggan and Janis Assere with the huge plays as the clock ticked down to see them home to a memorable victory.

Assere finished as the team's top scorer on 23 points, with Eimantus Kumpys on 16 and Duleek native Padraig McGroggan helping himself to 15.

Bullets' opponents in the decider on January 26th in the National Basketball Arena will be Glasnevin. They started and finished strongly to overcome Athenry 88-55 in the second semi-final in Cork on Sunday afternoon.

DROGHEDA BULLETS: Liam Woods, Ciaran McGroggan, Padraig McGroggan, Robert Sullivan, Patryk Kopec, Denzel Ebose, Stephen Safo, Rafa Martinez, Janis Assere, Wole Ilori, Danny Oniwana, Eimantus Kumpys, Cian Crowley.

Drogheda Independent