Belfast Telegraph

Magical Malachy's retain Irish Cup in stunning style

By David Kelly

St Malachy's College retained the under-19 All-Ireland Schools Cup yesterday and confirmed this side to be one of the greatest in the history of the competition.

Malachy's, coached by former Irish international Adrian Fulton, were ultimately far too strong for 2012 winners Presentation College Bray, crushing their opponents 80-58, having trailed 39-37 at the break.

The Quinn twins Conor and Aidan top scored on 18 and 17 points respectively, while Liam Pettigrew claimed 17 points. Aidan Quinn was deservedly voted the MVP after another outstanding performance.

Coach Fulton said: "I'm very proud of the boys. They were in a bit of trouble, it was a tough match but they showed their character and their class by the way they took over the game in the second half."

Malachy's had found themselves in huge difficulty early in the contest when an energetic Bray side forced numerous turnovers, leading to fast break opportunities.

Taking the most of those chances was Andy Bartley, who finished the game with 18 points and was a major thorn in the defending champion's side throughout.

Bray's early dominance meant they found themselves up by 14 points midway through the second quarter as point guard Marc Lennon carved open the Malachy's full court pressure time and time again.

The game swung however with two minutes remaining in the second quarter when – from a coach Fulton timeout – Malachy's ran a great play for Pettigrew to score inside. That move stunned the Bray lads and seemed to ignite Malachy's.

Over the following two minutes, Malachy's blitzed their opponents over the next two minutes and managed to cut the deficit to just a single basket at the half time break, 37-39.

With momentum on their side, Malachy's came out much the stronger in the second half as Aidan Quinn in particular found his shooting touch.

While Bray trailed by just 10 points at the end of the third quarter, the game had very much swung in favour of Malachy's.

An astute move from Fulton pushed the Quinn twins off the point guard position as young Odhran Eastwood took over the ball handling duties, allowing both Conor and Aidan to divert their full attention to pummelling the basket.

It worked a treat and by the middle of the fourth quarter, what had been a really entertaining and fast-paced contest descended into a trot to the finish line for Malachy's.

Fulton's under-19s also won the All-Ireland league last year and they will now seek to make it a back-to-back double in March.

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