St Malachy's hit top form to lift All-Ireland title
St Malachy's College produced a superb performance to win the All Ireland under-16 league title at the National Basketball Arena.
Malachy's returned to the venue where they agonisingly lost by a point in the All Ireland Cup final and after a tight three quarters the Belfast boys came up with their best basketball in the final quarter to seal victory over Killorglin of Kerry, 49-34.
In last month's Cup final, Mattie Mulholland had hit what he believed to be the winning basket, only for the officials to rule that the buzzer had already sounded before he got his shot off. Yesterday, it was Mulholland who sparked a nine-point run without reply two minutes into the final quarter that drove Malachy's to victory.
Coach Adrian Fulton said: "The lads deserve so much credit with the way they have bounced back from the defeat in the Cup. With young lads you just never know how they will respond but they were brilliant.
"Niall McGinnity was deservedly voted the MVP. It was great to see Mattie Mulholland come up with some big shots in the last quarter. Overall it was a great team performance from the guys.
"They all did the school proud and the great thing is that many of them are young so they'll be back next year."
In front of a big crowd at the Arena in Tallaght, the first half was a tight affair as both teams' defences were on top but captain McGinnity and Jack Summersgill were showing flashes of real class - with Summersgill coming up with a three-pointer.
Coach Fulton's son CJ was orchestrating matters from the point guard position, while defensively Peter Henvey was looking very impressive.
Indeed, St Malachy's head coach Phil Molloy's clever defensive tactics kept Killorglin's best players very quiet.
At the break the sides were locked at 25-25 and as the clock ticked down to the end of the third quarter Conor Cooke rebounded superbly to set up Conor Ryan who slotted home a three-pointer which once more tied up the teams at 32-32.
Mulholland then came up with his sparkling two minutes, hitting a three-pointer before delivering a three-point play and then a steal three-point play by MVP McGinnity (21 points).