Warriors claim Blitz men's title

Premier Men's final: Garveys Warriors 53 Keanes Killorglin 44

Timmy Sheehan

The Premier Men's final provided a fitting finale to the Tournament with both of Kerry's Superleague sides playing out a pretty pulsating encounter in a contest which was firmly pointing in favour of Killorglin for three quarters of the tie.

However, a late surge from Warriors ensured that they retained the title with a performance which was largely indifferent for long periods. With just two periods of fifteen minutes being played it was essential for both sides to get to grips with the situation from the outset. However, being without both Paul Dick and Jordan Evans Warriors started devoid of any real pattern or intensity.

Killorglin, by contrast, were superior in all facets of play, and an early three point score from Adam O'Donoghue set the tone for a prolonged period of supremacy. Further threes from Daniel Jokubaitis and Marin Brzica extended Killorglin's lead to nine (11-2) after just three minutes. Warriors defensive frailties allowed Killorglin to continually capitalise from the fringes, and, given time and space they mantained a significant lead, and were ten points in front (14-4), midway through the first half.

Gradually, Warriors got to grips with the situation, and with Fergal O Sullivan off the bench providing some impetus, and contributing seven points Warriors were just one point adrift (18-17) with 2.25 left on the clock, with Kieran Donaghy and Eoin Quigley (two) having netted three unanswered baskets. However, Killorglin responded in pretty emphatic fashion, and a three right on the buzzer from the impressive Pierre Newton meant that Killorglin had restored a pretty comfortable scoring cushion (30-20) by the interval break, with the outstanding Daniel Jokubaitis having scored 13 points.

Keith Jumper who found it difficult to make an impact in the opening half opened the second half scoring followed by another from the industrious Darragh O'Hanlon. However a defence splitting drive and a lay up from Pierre Newton meant that Warriors were kept at arms length for a period, but, with Kieran Donaghy providing some admirable leadership Warriors gradually worked their way back into contention with Janis Dunbar enjoying a productive period, and, the wholehearted Darren O'Sullivan shooting a three to narrow the gap to just three points (32-29) with 11.18 remaining.

Adam O'Donoghue with his second three point score of the game afforded Killorglin some breathing space(38-32), but with just under nine minutes remaining Keith Jumper began to impose his considerable presence on proceedings. A technical foul call on Fergal O Sullivan which ended his participation in the contest looked at the time, as if, it might have a crucial bearing on proceedings. But it didn't really impact on the Tralee side's momentum, and with 4.19 remaining the encounter was deadlocked on 44 points apiece.

Delicately poised Eoin Quigley's three pointer proved to be the game breaker, putting Warriors in front for the very first time in proceedings. Effecting a few vital turnovers Warriors sealed the issue with Keith Jumper's slam dunk really putting daylight between the teams (51-44) with just under two minutes remaining. Killorglin were unable to counteract this late surge from a Warriors side, who didn't exactly fire on all cylinders, for the duration, but, had the resilience and character to keep pace at stages when the issue was slipping from their grasp.

Killorglin looked the likely winners for prolonged periods, but, with Daniel Jokubaitis unable to repeat his first half scoring input they struggled at a pivotal period going down the stretch. The statistics will confirm a somewhat average percentage return in shooting terms, especially from the free throw line, but, it mattered little, given that the capacity crowd were treated to a compelling contest, one, which could have gone either way, but in the final analysis Warriors dug deepest when the need was greatest.

Top scorers - Tralee Warriors: K Jumper (19), K Donaghy (8), E Quigley (7) F O'Sullivan (7). Keane's Killorglin: D Jokubaitis (15), P Newton (11), A O'Donoghue (8)