Apr 13 2010 Posted: 00:00 IST
NUI Galway men's basketball team won their first intervarsity in twenty three years on Sunday with a dramatic last minute win over University of UIster Jordanstown (UUJ) in front of a packed house in the Kingfisher gym at the University. The NUI Galway side cruised to the semi-final with easy wins over UCC, CIT and DIT respectively, leaving them with a highly anticipated semi-final match-up against perennial powerhouses UCD, winners of three of the last four titles. It was in that contest that the home side truly emerged as legitimate contenders, winning with almost thirty points to spare and sending a warning to the clear favourites UUJ who emerged from their semi against DCU. The two teams served up a true classic in the final with NUI Galway shocking the odds and pulling off a memorable victory 61 points to 60, much to the delight of a raucous home support. With twenty eight seconds to go, Dylan Cunningham became the hero, hitting the all important free-throw to put the tribesmen ahead for the first time in the game. "To win it here in Galway is absolutely amazing, especially the way we did it. To be sixteen points down in the fourth quarter and then go on a run like we did, with the crowd getting behind us like that was just incredible" said team captain Cían Nihill. "It's great to be rewarded for all the hard work that has gone on this year, from the players, coaches and the sports staff at NUI Galway. It sounds a little stereotypical, but I really think we simply wanted it more than any other team down here". The win is a reflection of the current strength of Galway basketball with the panel for the final made up entirely of local players. Moycullen player James Loughnane won the final Most Valuable Player (MVP) with an inspirational 22 points. He also secured the overall tournament MVP, joining Garnett Griffin and Cían Nihill on the tournament All-Star team. Team Captain Cian Nihill also gave a special mention to the coach Puff Summers, who managed his team perfectly all weekend. "The UUJ outfit was comprised of five recruited post-graduates, including a professional American collegiate star in Dave Neal and Summers' game plan and rotation managed to neutralise their offence to a near halt. Those shrewd rotations meant that NUI Galway had the necessary reserves to hold UUJ scoreless in the last five minutes which gave them the opportunity to stage the miraculous comeback".