An amazing Hail Mary shot from Pobailscoil Neasáin's Kevin Murphy answered his team's prayers in Tuesday's round one clash in Baldoyle.
Although probably the smallest player on view, his three-pointer from halfway brought a tumultous cheer from the home bench as Pobailscoil Neasáin took a a 14-2 lead at the of first quarter. That Murphy's wonder shot came right on the buzzer only served to add to its impact and for all their valiant efforts, the visitors were never able to close the gap sufficiently.
The visitors were not short on three-point options either, with Stephen Ryan twice landing big ones to bring his side into contention.
In defence, Brendan Aspel proved a cool customer for the KIldare outfit as he distributed some good ball out of defence. But Pobailscoil Neasáin's quickness off the rebounds ensured a steady supply of possession throughout.
And with just two of the squad unavailable for next year, coach Michael Westbrooks has plenty to work with.
Gabreil Ogundipe (pictured) was Pobailscoil Neasáin's MVP in their narrow Under 16 Cup final defeat to Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny in 2013.
And he was once more instrumental for the home side, particularly in the second quarter.
He had landed the first basket of the game for the home side and while Vytates Cemertas had shown good man-marking qualities for the visitors, Pobailscoil Neasáin's strength under the boards saw them open an 11-2 lead. Mike O'Byrne had doubled the Baldoyle team's advantage before some good pressure offence saw Ciarán Murphy stretch their lead. Brian Donohue was to finally open the vistitors account but after O'Byrne had converted one of his free throws, Kevin Murphy then showed terrific balance to guide the ball in from the left.
And Pobailscoil Neasáin's numerous scoring options was typified by a terrfic basket from the edge of the key by Austin Trimmer before Kevin Murphy finished the half with an unbelievable basket to leave Cross and Passion down by 12 at the end of the quarter.
Cross and Passion however showed their character in the second period and after baskets at each end, Ryan then drained a big three to close the gap to nine.
Donohue continued the comeback with successive baskets (Adam Cox had made a good up-court drive at the other end in between) only for Gabreil Ogundipe to twice penetrate the opposition defence to put the home side back in the driving seat.
By half-time, the home side's lead was nine, 26-17, with Ogundipe showing good postioning to bring his team's lead into double figures shortly after the restart.
Some steady shooting by David O'Neill from the free-throw line kept the scoreboard ticking along for Cross and Passion, but Pobailscoil Neasáin's height inside was to see their lead maintained as they went into the final period with a 35-27 advantage.
And with Ciarán Murphy showing well in the early stages, Pobailscoil Neasáin kept the pressure on and while a big basket from Ryan was to put just six between the sides with 1:30 to go, the home side closed the game out to progress.
PobailScoil Neasáin: Niall Deegan, Austin Trimmer, Paul Shannon, Adam Cox, Mike O'Byrne, Phiip Roche, Ciarán Murphy (5pts), Gabreil Ogundipe (13 pts), Keith Masterson, Kevin Murphy (5pts)
Cross and Passion Kilcullen: Ben Phelan, David O Neill, Adam Talbot, Stephen Ryan, Goodwin Jalagna, Aaron Tait, Jan Tadena, Aodhan Mullan, Paddy Murphy, Brian Donohue (10 pts), Brendan Aspel (8pts), Vytates Cemertas.