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WOLVES HOUND CARLOW TO REACH CUP FINAL

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Wolves' Ciaran McGroggan takes on former Drogheda player Eoin Hackett (now of IT Carlow) during the President's Cup semi-final at Parochial Hall in Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Wolves' Ciaran McGroggan takes on former Drogheda player Eoin Hackett (now of IT Carlow) during the President's Cup semi-final at Parochial Hall in Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Padraig McGroggan of Drogheda Wolves and assistant coach Noel Kierans celebrate after their side's victory. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Padraig McGroggan of Drogheda Wolves and assistant coach Noel Kierans celebrate after their side's victory. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Drogheda Wolves head coach Gavin Garland urges his team on during Saturday's National Division 1 Cup semi-final. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Drogheda Wolves head coach Gavin Garland urges his team on during Saturday's National Division 1 Cup semi-final. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

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Wolves' Ciaran McGroggan takes on former Drogheda player Eoin Hackett (now of IT Carlow) during the President's Cup semi-final at Parochial Hall in Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

droghedaindependent

DROGHEDA WOLVES 74

IT CARLOW72

NATIONAL League rookies Drogheda Wolves sensationally qualified for the Division 1 Cup decider in just under two weeks’ time after the underdogs held off IT Carlow to win a thrilling semi-final in Cork last Saturday evening.

The Boynesiders fought back from six points down at half-time and survived a nail-biting final minute to set up a match-up with Cork’s Blue Demons at the National Basketball Arena the Saturday after next at 1:30pm.

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For most of the game it looked as if Wolves, surprise winners away to Limerick Eagles in the quarter-finals, were on course to bow out of the competition.

Carlow, seasoned cup campaigners at this level, were the better team early on as they picked off the Wolves’ loose ball play and ran the other end for easy scores.

Wolves were struggling for any rhythm but scrapped away to trail by just three points after one quarter and by six - 39-33 - at the mid-way point of what proved a low-scoring contest.

Gavin Garland, Wolves’ coach, switched to the seldom-used the zone defense system in the third quarter and from there the momentum began to swing in favour of the Drogheda team.

They still trailed 54-50 going into the final quarter but were beginning to shake off the rustiness that had been evident, with the team short on game and pre-match practice time.

Jubie Alade got the first four points of the quarter to boost their confidence, while Lucas Walford - making his season debut, finished a three-point play - and would go on to finish as his team’s top scorer on 19 points.

Then Padraig (Podge) McGroggan nailed a huge three-pointer from way beyond the arc to start the push that turned a three-point deficit with five minutes remaining to a five-point lead just 120 seconds later.

His brother Ciaran matched it with his fourth three-pointer of the game, to be followed by a Walford lay up and then another Podge ‘bomb’ from the arc.

With 53 seconds remaining Wolves led by five following two consecutive Adam Mullally baskets, but IT Carlow weren’t quite finished yet.

They pulled the deficit back to two and former Drogheda Wolves player Eoin Hackett - who is now playing for IT Carlow - almost nailed what would have been an equaliser to take the semi-final into overtime.

In those frantic last few moments the Boynesiders’ recent signing from St Vincents, Kevin O’Hanlon, showed all his experience and Wolves hung on for a famous win.

Head coach Garland was relieved as well as delighted to get over the line and he said: “A fantastic game. The intensity was top-notch and you couldn’t ask for more than a one-basket game.

“Carlow went out and attacked us very well to start - they’re used to this intensity, being in the Cup semi-finals the last three years - but just like all season our boys have adapted and competed and we got back into the game.

“We don’t play zone that much, but we had to protect the basket and I think that changed the momentum a little bit, but all of the players contributed.

“It was absolutely fantastic and it’s a great shout-out to all of the volunteers at Drogheda Wolves, what they’ve done so far for our first season to get experience and to get to the final.”

The Drogheda side’s scheduled league match at home to McGowans Tolka Rovers this Saturday has been postponed because of Covid-19 issues. Tolka are coached by Gerald Kennedy, who previously led Drogheda Bullets to the NICC Cup Final during a long spell with the Boynesiders.

DROGHEDA WOLVES: Denzel Ebose, Ciaran Mc Groggan 12, Wede Esajobar, Kevin O’Hanlon 2, Padraig McGroggan 14, Steven Safo, Adam Mullally 10, Guilherme Alves Vilela 4, Cian Crowley, Jubie Alade 10, Tiago Pereira 3, Lucas Walford 18.

IT CARLOW: Ben Kelly Flynn 16, Jordan Fallon 5, Sebb Uglis, Aaron Whelan 1, Ben Kavanagh, Kevin Donohoe 18, Jake Conroy, Jack Kehoe, Mateo Plaza Reino, Armand Vaikuls 2, Roland Vaikuls, Eoin Hackett 7, Nate Shafer 33.


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