Tuesday 20th March, 2012All Ireland Basketball Winners
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St. Macartan's all Ireland U16 Schools Basketball Champions4web.jpg


Tuesday 20th March 2012, will live long in the memory of anyone associated with sport and in particular basketball at St. Macartan’s College as the Sem claimed their first  U-16 All-Ireland B Basketball League Trophy. In what proved to be a very tense affair the north Monaghan college were victorious on a score-line of 67-66. Three coaches of supporters travelled in hope more than expectation to the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght where they witnessed one of the best underage games of the year at the IBBA national venue.
‘The Sem’, started brightly with baskets from Ramunas Ramanuskas and MVP award winner David McAlister seeing a 7-0 lead open up early in the opening quarter. However, the Cork outfit rallied and closed the gap to two points at the end of the 1st quarter at 19-17, with scores from Mantas Zalkas proving crucial just before the 1st Quarter buzzer went. On the resumption of the 2nd Quarter, ‘The Sem’ continued where they had finished off, once again commanding a seven point lead, in main, due to the guile and skill of point-guard David McAlister. The game ebbed and flowed with scores shared and as the half-time buzzer sounded ‘The Sem’, were 5 points in the lead 34-29.
The half-time break seemed to do the Sem no favours as CBC Cork took control of the game through the play of their Captain Denis Lenihan. The Sem’s defence became lax for a while and it took  baskets from Daithi Colton and Mantas Zalkas to settle the nerves of the Monaghan side as they endeavoured to play themselves back into the game, albeit facing a 5 point deficit heading into the final and crucial quarter.
The introduction of Team Captain Richard Wilkie who had been missing due to illness seemed to spark the vocal Sem support into life. Fast break baskets from Daithi Colton ensured that the Sem regained the lead for the first time in over a quarter after David McAlister drained a thirty footer for a three points. CBC Cork now found themselves on the back foot. With 50 seconds remaining St. Macartan’s led by 4points, but after some brilliant attacking play by Cork, and an excellent three pointer from their captain Lenihan, it left only the minimum between the teams.
This game was proving not to be for the faint hearted as possession changed hands on several occasions in the final seconds, before potential disaster struck for St. Macartans. With only 7.2 seconds left on the game-clock one of the referees called a foul and as the Sem were on team fouls it automatically sent the Cork Captain to the free throw line with two shots to either win or tie the game. All Monaghan eyes present stared at the basket as Lenihan missed his first shot. Still a converted free throw would bring the game to extra time.  Astonishingly CBC’s most prolific scorer missed his second free throw and with the Sem claiming the rebound and the remaining seconds on the clock rundown, the All-Ireland trophy made its way to North Monaghan for the first time.
Team Coach Mr. Garrett Coyle was obviously delighted at the end of this contest; “It’s just an unbelievable feeling. We’ve been on a very long journey since we started training last September. All the hard work and the training has paid off. I’ve been very lucky to have had a quality and dedicated panel of players who have committed themselves to winning silverware and they have been rewarded for their efforts.  Credit must go to Enda O’ Brien and the Donagh Basketball Club for all their hard work in promoting the game of Basketball in North Monaghan. We have harnessed that talent and you can see the benefits.” Regarding  the final moments of the game he commented; “Those last few seconds seemed like an eternity. When David Lenihan stood on the free throw line I thought we were finished. But in fairness to our guys I thought we had done enough to deserve the win. Our backs were against the wall especially when we got news this morning that our team captain and top scorer, Richard was unable to play due to illness, but the boys didn’t let it phase them at all. They just went out and worked hard for one another, the hallmark of any good team. I’m just delighted and proud of each and every single one of them.”
Team and scores, David McAlister (29 pts). Ramuans Ramuanskas (16 pts), Mantas Zalikas
(10 pts), Daithi Colton (8 pts), Christopher Kerr (2 pts), Thomas McElmeel (2 pts), Richard Wilkie, Andrius Jastramskas, Caolan McElwain, Conor Bogue, Darren Caulfield, Garbhan Harraghy, James Deery, James McKenna, Kieran McGuirk, Marc Brennan and Thomas O’Brien.