Mustang Sally’s 71
Merry Monk 91
IT was a long journey worthwhile for Merry Monk Ballina who advanced to the quarter-finals of the national cup following an impressive victory over Mustang Sallys Killarney in the Presentation Gym, Killarney on Sunday. Ballina’s greater strength in depth and accuracy from three-point range were crucial factors in the win.
These two sides clashed in the league last month with Ballina winning by four points but there were some changes in personnel on both sides this time round. Ballina were boosted with the inclusion of Jermaine Turner, Ronan McGarrity and veteran Deora Marsh, and all three were very prominent in this cup win. Mustangs included American Justin Wingard, but he and his colleague Nick Covington were completely overshadowed by the Ballina American pairing of Puff Summers and Jermaine Turner.
Ballina started with their foreign trio of Summers, Turner and Strobl alongside Paul Freeman and Darragh McGarrity. They were 5-0 in front within a minute thanks to early scores from Summers and Turner. Darragh McGarrity also made his mark as the visitors led 10-6 midway through the first quarter. Mustangs were struggling on offence and the introduction of Ronan McGarrity at this stage helped to extend Ballina’s lead to 18-16 with three minutes left in the first quarter. Dainius Varanauskas and Justin Wingard kept Mustangs in contention but Deora Marsh and a late three-pointer from Ronan McGarrity helped the visitors to a 25-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The westerners continued to dominate with Pete Strobl and a spectacular dunk from Ronan McGarrity that actually loosened the backboard and hepled Ballina to a comfortable 30-18 lead. Mustangs bounced back well with Matt Hilleary inspirational, while Wingard also added baskets as the home side narrowed the gap to 30-26 with 6:30 left in the second quarter. Hileary cut it to three points, but McGarrity and Summers made sure that Ballina led 37-32 at half-time.
The home side continued to fight back and with Eoin O’Brien back on court for the second half, the deficit was cut to just one point, 40-39, with eight minutes left in the third quarter. However, Ballina stepped it up again with the dynamic trio of Summers, Turner and McGarrity keeping them in control to lead 51-45 midway through the third quarter. Further threes from Summers and Turner extended their advantage and they led 66-52 as the game entered the final quarter.
The game looked out of reach for the home side at this stage, and another three-pointer from match MVP Ronan McGarrity finished any prospects of a comeback. Ballina led 73-52 with 9:30 left and the rest of the game was a mere formality for them. With Summers and Turner continuing to dominate, they were 84-63 ahead with four minutes left, and they led by all of 25 points at one stage. In the end Ballina had a very comfortable 20 points to spare and their victory was greeted with delight by their large band of travelling supporters.
“We stepped it up in the second half and our greater strength in depth on the bench was a factor in the win,” said delighted coach Terry Kennedy. “The return of Ronan McGarrity was a huge boost for us and all the guys we brought in made a big difference. It was great to have Deora (Marsh) back too and even at 49 years of age, he did a great job for us,” he said.
Kennedy confirmed that Turner is signed for the season while they also hope to welcome back Liam McHale for the quarter-final.
“We travelled down to Kerry on Saturday and trained for two hours in Castleisland that night. Mustangs are not a bad team and I was always worried throughout the course of the game. Fortunately we played better on the day and we are looking forward to the next round,” he added.
The draw for the quarter-finals takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) while Merry Monk are at home to Dart Killester in the Super League on Saturday night at 8pm.