St.Mary’s Blitz – A Hugely Successful 47th Annual Tournament

St. Mary's Basketball Club Chairman, Maurice Casey and his wife, Michelle after receiving presentations at the 47th annual Christmas Blitz and Castleisland Community Centre.  Photograph: Pat Hartnett.
St. Mary’s Basketball Club Chairman, Maurice Casey and his wife, Michelle after receiving presentations at the 47th annual Christmas Blitz at Castleisland Community Centre.
Photograph: Pat Hartnett.

St. Mary’s Basketball Club’s 47th annual Christmas Blitz came to a close on Friday night. It was a huge success with 157 games played. All the games met their time obligations even though several went to overtime on finals day.

The crowds exceeded all expectations, both St. John’s Hall and Castleisland Community Centre were very well supported on all days and both were packed to capacity on the 28th and 30th.

St. Mary’s club PRO Liz Galwey provides us with a rundown on the event and on the finals for flavour.

Club chairman Maurice Casey was delighted with the event “I am absolutely delighted, it ran like clockwork and I must thank our hard working committee and everyone involved for their part in this.

Sponsors and Supporters

“The committee has put a lot of work in over the past few months and it has paid off. We are of course indebted to our sponsors and supporters also and we had great crowds over the five days,” said Maurice.

Tournament director Donal O’Connor was also thrilled with how the tournament ran:

“I think it was a great blitz and it is always worth the hard work when you see the crowds and see how well everything has fallen into place,” he said.

It is estimated that in excess of 13,000 patrons visited the tournament this year and the finals were among some of the most exciting ever witnessed with some going to overtime and double overtime and most others finishing with only a basket separating the sides.

Presentation was made to retired national school principals, Cáit Daly, Scoil Ide Curranes and Denis Griffin, Castleisland Boys National School for their dedication to the blitz during their reigns.

Presentation to Maurice Casey

A special presentation was also made to Maurice Casey. Maurice has been chair for the past five years and he was highly complimented on his success and popularity as both chairman and club member and for the ongoing work he does for the club. Maurice’s wife Michelle was also presented with a bouquet of flowers.

Premier Men: Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors

The Premier Men’s section was run off on Wednesday, December 28th. The first surprise thrown up was that division one side Keane’s SV went from the qualifying round straight to the final having clocked up 111 points in their qualifying games.

Former St. Mary’s player Declan Wall gave a fine display of three point shooting in these games. Super League sides: Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and Griffin Swords Thunder were the next two top placed teams.

Having met in the first round games they were once again faced with each other in the semi-final. This was an exceptionally exciting game which went down to the wire.

Warriors came out on top with a 43 to 41 win to make the final. It was close in the early part with just five points separating the sides at half time. The second half saw Warriors pull away aided by some great rebounding from Kieran Donaghy.

Warriors held a 10 point lead by the final buzzer. Best for Killorglin was Damon Jones MVP for the game was Warrior’s Ryan Leonard who stood out not just for scoring 17 points but for his all round contribution to the game.

Final score Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin 45 – Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 55. MVP: Ryan Leonard

Division 3 men local The Mad Ones v The Vixens

The first final of the 47th St. Mary’s Blitz took place on Tuesday 27th when The Mad Ones took on The Vixens in the Division Three men’s local competition. Vixens had full control in the first half and led by 14 points at half time. But The Mad Ones made a huge comeback in the second half to make a game of it. It was too late to fully recover. However, despite massive scoring from team captain, Kieran O’Donoghue who was top scorer on 11 points. Vixens first half performance was enough to see them take the first win of the blitz. Final score: The Mad Ones 21 – The Vixens 27. MVP: Andy Ahern.

Division 4 Men: Birds of a Feather v Splash Brothers

This game was slow to start and low scoring in the first half with Splash Brothers leading five points to two.

The teams found the target in the second half and scored 17 and 18 points respectively. Ten points of Birds of a Feather’s total came from Daniel Griffin while Philip O’Connor was top scorer for Splash Brothers with 14 points. But it was Mike Brennan’s outstanding performance that earned him MVP for the game.

Final score: Birds of a Feather 19 – Splash Brothers 23. MVP: Mike Brennan

Division 5 Men: Ballymac V Ballymac North

This was very much a local derby. North End led by three at the interval and maintained that lead throughout the second half. Matthew Ahern was strong for Ballymac with five points while Niall Regan matched him for Ballymac North

Final Score: Ballymac 14 – Ballymac North 17. MVP: Niall Regan, Ballymac North.

Division 3 Men A: Castlemeats Barbarians v The Godfathers

Castlemeats Barbarians got off to a flying start in this final and prevented The Godfathers from registering a single point in the first half of the game while netting 13 points themselves. However, The Godfathers found the target in the second half and clocked up 11 points. Final Score: Castlemeats Barbarians 22 – The Godfathers 11. MVP Graham O’Connor.

Junior National School Girls B: Muire Gan Smál V Kilmurry

The opening game of finals day was played in front of a packed house. The pace was fast and nerves were on edge. Both teams gave a great performance. Muire gan Smal were the stronger side with Keeva Ahern and Amy McCarthy shining. A great performance from Kilmurry’s Ellie Mai Walsh saw her receive the MVP. Ellie Mai scored five points.

Final Score: Muire Gan Smál 13 – Kilmurry 5.

Senior National School Girls B: Firies V O’Brennan.

A close game to start with but Firies had height advantage and as well as making the shots they won most of the rebounds at both end of the court and pulled away as the first half progressed. Firies captain Katie O’Leary was strong for her side making several steals while Eimear Curran and Katie Collins shone for O’Brennan. O’ Brennan fought hard to the end but it was a strong Firies side that came out on top. Final Score: Firies 19 – O’Brennan 13.

Junior National School Boys B: Scoil Ide Curranes V Kilmurry

This was a nail biting game from start to finish with the sides neck and neck throughout the match. Scoile Íde lead by a single point as the clock ran down and held on to win the game. Both Evan Brennan and Max O’Connell stood out for Scoil Ide while Gerard Costello, who scored all nine points for Kilmurry, was named MVP for the game. Final Score: Scoil Ide 10 – Kilmurry 9.

Senior National School Boys B: Firies V Gael Scoil Aogáin.

A strong Gael Scoil squad held a marginal lead in this thriller up until the final seconds but at no point did Firies lose heart..The determination of the Firies boys was rewarded, they lost and regained possession during the last 11 seconds but they played their hearts out and a basket with just under three seconds to go from team captain Stephen Palmer stole the game. Ger O’Brosnachain was outstanding for Gael Scoil and registered six points for his side while for Firies Stephen Palmer hit four and MVP for the game was James Horgan from Firies who secured seven points for his side. Final Score Firies 13 – Gael Scoil 12.

JuniorNational School Girls A: Scartaglen V Gaelscoil Aogáin

Scartaglen were the stronger side throughout this game although Gaelscoil gave it their all. It was an all round performance by the Scartaglen side who were captained by Mollie O’Mahony, MVP for the game was an impressive Sarah Ní Scannláin. Final score: Scartaglen National School 19 – Gael Scoil 7.

U-14 Girls: St. Mary’s Black V Kerry Green.

A fantastic game which was close throughout. Kerry Green were down a point with just seconds on the clock and they levelled from the free throw line. The game went into overtime of three minutes and finished with St. Mary’s winning by six points.

Final Score: St. Mary’s 25 – Kerry Green 19. MVP: Paris McCarthy. St. Mary’s.

U-14 Boys: Bobcats V St. Mary’s.

This was yet another thriller as the sides were level for the most part. St. Mary’s trailed by three at half time. As the clock ran down it was anyone’s game. St. Mary’s led by three before Bobcats Darragh Sweeney put his side up a point and Tim Pollmaan Daamen made one from the free throw line to see Bobcats win by three.

Final Score: Bobcats 25 – St. Mary’s 23. MVP: Keelan O’Donoghue, St. Mary’s.

Senior National School Girls A: Scartaglen v Gneeveguilla .

This final was a real crowd pleaser. It was neck and neck the whole way through and the crowd was vocal throughout which added to the excitement. Final score in overtime: Scartaglen 10 Gneeveguilla 12. MVP : Tara O’Leary, Gneeveguilla.

U-16 girls St. Mary’s 1 v St. Mary’s 2

This was yet another great match that went down to the wire. A great display of basketball by both sides. Team 1 led in the early part but ‘Mary’s 2’ fought back to take the win by one point. Emma Regan from St. Mary’s 1 was named MVP having had some great rebounds, steals and assists. Final Score: St. Mary’s (1) 26 – St. Mary’s (2) 27.

U-16 Boys: St. Mary’s V St. Brendan’s.

This was a game that could have gone either way, St. Mary led by a basket at half time. Daniel Kelly and Donal Geaney impressing for the home team. St. Brendan’s, Rap Bulvydas gave a great performance hitting 13 points. In spite of the best efforts of the Tralee boys, St. Mary’s took the win by two points. Final Score: St. Mary’s 22 – St. Brendan’s 20. MVP: Donal Geaney, St. Mary’s.

Division 3 Ladies: Blossom Hillers V Desmonds.

In the first senior game of the day Blossom Hillers led by nine points to six at the interval. Desmonds were not to be outdone though and had levelled with a minute and a half to go. They took the lead for the first time as the clock ran down, Blossom Hill took possession with 40 seconds remaining but could not find the target and Desmonds remained two points ahead on the final buzzer. Final Score: Blossom Hillers 11- Desmonds 13. MVP: Marie Twomey.

Division 2 Men: Waterville V Cordal United

Cordal took an early lead in this division two men’s final. Waterville did reduce the gap but Cordal pushed ahead again until Waterville’s John Teahan found his target and brought it back to a one point game. It was too late for the South Kerry team though and Cordal United took the win. Final Score: Waterville 17 – Cordal United 18. MVP: John Teahan.

Division 2 Ladies: St. Bridget’s V St. Mary’s Red

A good start saw St. Mary’s take a comfortable lead early in the game with team captain Nicole Downey opening the scoring. However, St. Bridget’s hit some unanswered baskets to reduce the gap as the game progressed with Fiona Nelligan McGuire going on a scoring spree. The home team led 15 points to 12 with a minute and a half to go when a rebound from Katie Reidy set Rebecca Ryan up for a three to push them further ahead. A steal by Maeve Young ensured that St. Bridget did not have the time to recover and St. Mary’s took the division two title. Final Score: St. Bridget’s 12 – St. Mary’s 18 . MVP: Rebecca Ryan, St. Mary’s.

Division One Men: KCYMS V St. Mary’s.

Both of these teams had been strong during the qualifying rounds. KCYMS entered the final without Seamus Brosnan and Darragh Jones who had played up a division to join Keane’s SuperValu in the premier final. St. Mary’s were fortunate to have Adam Donoghue back from the Ireland U-18 squad where he was part of the Irish side which won the Harris tournament in Manchester.

KCYMS took the lead early in the match but St. Mary’s made a comeback to trail by just a basket at half time. It was a different game in the second half as KCYMS pulled well away to have a comprehensive win over the homeside. Final score: KCYMS 37 – St. Mary’s 15. MVP Saulius Marcinkevicius.

Senior Ladies: Fr. Matthews V Brunell

The senior ladies final was an all Cork affair between a young Brunell side and Fr. Matthews. Fr. Matthews got off to a strong start and led nine points to three with just three minutes remaining to half time.

Brunell made a good comeback but it was still Fr. Mathews who led 11 points to nine at the interval. As the second half progressed Brunell went on to take the lead. They were up five points with a minute and a half remaining when Fr. Matthew’s Danielle O’Riordan hit a three to narrow the gap to just two points with less than a minute to go.

Fr. Matthews had possession with two seconds remaining and Amanda O’Regan hit a basket to level. A time out called by Brunell resulted in an inbound from the half way but with 0.3 on the clock they didn’t have the time to make the score and the game went to overtime.

Brunell had possession and a determined Alex Macheta drove through to take the basket and bonus. She went on to hit a three and put them comfortably six points ahead mid way through the overtime. Fr. Matthews hit a free throw and then a three and Brunell responded with two points before Fr. Matthews nailed yet another three to see them trail by just one now with 12 seconds remaining. Brunell’s Laura Morrissey went to the line and made one from two. Fr. Matthews had control of the ball and they made the required basket to put the game into double overtime.

It was Fr. Matthews who had possession this time and they took the score immediately. Steals at both sides of the court gave Brunell the opportunity to score. They did – and did it again but Mathews were back with a three to go ahead again with 55 seconds on the clock.

A foul put Brunell’s Orla Murphy back on the line and the sides were level after she made one. Brunell played the final 27 seconds well they ran the clock down to five seconds cutting it tight but drew the foul as required, Alex Macheta made both free throws leaving no time for Fr. Matthew’s to respond. Final Score: Fr. Matthews 36 – Brunell 38. MVP: Amy Murphy, Brunell.

Junior National School Boys A: Gael Scoil Aogáin V Holy Family

These boys had a long wait for their final and it was one that did not disappoint, it was close and exciting and the crowd went from roars to silence as teams scored and went to the free throw line. Holy Family led by two points at the interval. After an outstanding lay-up by Cillian O’Duinneacha for Gael Scoil they scored again to take the lead for the first time in the game. A steal led to free throws and eight made one to see the score at seven points to four in favour of Gael Scoil mid way through the second half. David Darmody from Holy Family made a basket and bonus with less than three minutes to play to level but Gael Scoils Criostóir Ó Dubhain hit back with one from the line and went on to make another basket to put Gael scoil up three with 47 seconds on the clock. Two turnovers cost Holy Family and it was Gael Scoil for the win when the buzzer rang.

Final Score: Gael Scoil Aogáin 10 – Holy Family 7. MVP: Criostóir Ó Dubháin, Gael Scoil Aogáin.

Senior National Schoolboys A: Currow V Scoil Nuchabháil

The last game of the evening tipped off in front of a huge crowd which had enjoyed several great finals throughout the day.

Currow opened the scoring and Nuchabháil responded from the free throw line but a few quick scores saw the boys in black and amber go nine points ahead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Currow had a good height advantage and this resulted in them holding a 13 point lead at half time as despite Nuachabhail’s best efforts they found it impossible to cut through the Currow defence. The second half opened with a three for Nuachbhail and they hit two more to reduce the gap to just six points. They were showing great determination now but Currow struck back again. A fast break and it was just a six point gap once again. As the clock ran down Currow added baskets to increase their lead to ten points. Final Score: Currow National School 22 – Scoil Nuchabhail 12.

Tournament Awards List

Best Overall Lady Player: Niamh O’Dwyer, Fr Matthews;  Best Overall Gent Player: Philip Griffin, Cordal United; Best Local Female Player: Labhaoise Walmsley, St Mary’s;

Best Local Male Player: Keelin O’Donoghue, St Mary’s;  Best Local Juvenile Female Player: Paris McCarthy, St Mary’s; Most Improved Young Player Male: Garry O’Sullivan, St Mary’s.

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