AS PREDICTED by Kilkenny Press, a historic basketball showdown in Kilkenny on Saturday proved to be a thriller.
Kilkenny Men faced the mighty Dublin Vikings in the new National Masters Cup but while the Cats were in purrfect form, the visitors escaped to victory.
It was 74-50 at the end of an exciting clash that brought the best from both teams and certainly suggests a cracking season for the veterans of the local game.
Dublin Masters proved to be very tough opposition for the lads in their first game together since November.
The black and amber started brightly with nice scores from Philip Brennan, Aoghan Courtney and Daniel McDaid.
Defensively, the team worked very hard, but the Dublin Vikings had a big height advantage and they used this very effectively to take an early lead.
The second quarter was as tough, with John Fogarty and Mark Nelson contributing handsomely for the Cats.
However, the Dubs found their scoring rhythm in this quarter, mixing it up with some long range scores to take a 40-25 lead into half-time.
KILKENNY PLAYERS GAVE EVERYTHING
A huge team effort was required by the Kilkenny team to maintain a challenge and it was given in abundance.
Éanna Brady, Paul Kavanagh and Anthony Wall made big contributions in this quarter, with relentless defence that was the platform for the team’s offence.
Aoghan Courtney picked up some awesome baskets to keep the vocal crowd entertained.
Going into the final quarter 20 points down, Kilkenny could have been forgiven for taking its foot off the gas and accepting the result.
However, that certainly was not the case as each player gave everything for every minute on the floor.
Noel Murphy made a big impact on the defensive boards, while Darius Novilakas and Raimondas Stonkus were a constant threat in offence.
Despite defeat, Kilkenny could be very proud of the performance, as the squad prepares for the Kilkenny Masters tournament on the first weekend in March.
After the game, and in the spirit of Masters Basketball, both teams headed to Paris Texas, main sponsors of Kilkenny Masters Basketball, for the post match drinks to celebrate a great game at O’Loughlin Gaels Gym.