St.Malachy’s College basketball stars headed south on Friday 25th January, seeking to bring All Ireland glory back to North Belfast. It was a two pronged attack with the U16 team playing Ard Scoil Rathangan, Co.Kildare at 10.30am and the U19 team playing Templeogue College, Dublin at 12.
The U16 team was led by Irish internationals Odhran Eastwood and Adam Ryan, who will head to the European Championships in Bosnia this summer with the U16 Irish team. Eastwood and Ryan have a powerful supporting cast including 6’4 Jordan McCloskey, who was himself unlucky not to make the international squad, the dynamic Ronan O’Fril and Sean Quinn who are a potent threat from the 3 point line. Quinn set the final alight with three 3-pointers inside two minutes. Inside threat Paul Morrison also had an excellent game at the defensive end, both in the semi final against Mercy Mounthawk from Tralee and the final v Ard Scoil Rathangan. The boys also secured wins over Presentation College, Bray and St.Joseph’s Galway to reach the final.
St.Malachy’s U19 team went one better than last year when defeating Templeogue College, Dublin in an absolutely enthralling encounter. The team has a youthful look about it as all but 2 of the players are in Year 13 and will return next year. Excellent shooting guards Aidan and Conor Quinn, alongside 6’7 Liam Pettigrew, all members of the current Irish U18 squad, played significant roles last year and they have been boosted by the arrival of 6’9 centre and Irish U17 international Oisin Kerlin who has had an excellent season. U17 international John Largey was an injury concern going into the final, not having played since before Christmas with an ankle injury. However, he was able to make a vital contribution off the bench. Sean Joe Rooney and Callum MacHugh have had a major impact this season particularly at the defensive end and did another excellent job in the final. With the likes of guards Aaron Goldring, Dominic Lyttle and Peter O’Donnell in the line up alongside centre Martin Bell, St.Malachy’s have been a tough team to beat this year and have secured wins over Mercy Mounthawk from Tralee, St.Fintan’s, Dublin, St.Mary’s CBGS, Belfast and St.Mary’s Galway to reach the final. St.Malachy’s were delighted that Year 14 students Joe O’Boyle and Michael Gorman, both of whom have played significant roles in their St.Malachy’s careers, had a major impact despite their preparations being hampered by A-Level modular exams.