Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra Rathmore are All Ireland Schools League champions.
They’ve won the U16A Boys decider, 61-55 against Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal Blarney (Cork).
In a game that was teed up to be a thriller from the off after the two sides came through two tough semi-final clashes to book their spot at the Arena, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra were in control for much of the game, but a dazzling fourth quarter comeback from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál ensured a nerve-wracking finale.
The opening quarter was a close and tense affair, with the teams matching each other score for score in the early exchanges. Good shooting from Blarney’s Eli Lenihan, Mark Maguire and Matthew McCarthy kept the scoreboard ticking over for them, but Rathmore’s PJ McAuliffe, Ronan Collins and James Darmody had a response every time and they lead 12-8 at the end of the first.
The Kerry team began to hit their stride in the second quarter, and put up a whopping 23 points in the eight-minute period with Ronan Collins and Alan Dineen shining brightest. Again, Maguire, Lenihan and Kelvin O’Donoghue worked some good scores for Blarney, but Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra looked in control at the half, leading 35-23.
The third quarter continued in the same vein, with Rathmore’s Damien Cronin, Alan Dineen and Paudie Murphy all chipping in with good scores, while O’Donoghue and Lenihan worked relentlessly for Blarney.
Leading 51-38 at the end of the third, it looked like Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra’s work was done, but Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál were having none of that. By the midway point, they had closed the gap to 59-45, and then, a dazzling run which included scores from Eli Lenihan – to include two huge three-pointers from the young international star – and fantastic shooting from O’Donoghue, suddenly saw the game back to four points, 59-55, with just over a minute to go.
A timely time-out from Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra was called and from the restart, Paudie O’Leary put them 61-55 ahead. With the crowd on their feet, the closing seconds ticked down and Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra managed to hold on and run the clock down to win 61-55 in the end.
SCOIL PHOBAIL SLIABH LUACHRA: Daniel Collins (2), Ronan Collins (19), Damien Cronin (4), Mark Cronin, James Darmody (9), Alan Dineen (16), PJ McAuliffe (6), Alex Mihailovs, Paudie Murphy (1), Ian O’Connor, Paudie O’Leary (4), Cathal Ryan.
SCOIL MHUIRE GAN SMÁL: Kelvin O’Donoghue (20), Mark Maguire (6), Eli Lenihan (24), Jack O’Leary, Emmet O’Shea, Matthew McCarthy (4), Isaac Eroutteh, Valentine Petrov, Conor Finnegan, Paul Dineen, Rhys O’Connor, Liam O’Brien.
MVP: Ronan Collins (Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra)