Mercy Mounthawk Hails Its Basketball Cup-Winning Heroes

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Deputy Principal of Mercy Mounthawk, Pat Fleming, with the U19 A All-Ireland champions at the school on Wednesday morning. Photo by Dermot Crean

IT’S been a long time coming but the top schools basketball trophy is finally residing in Mercy Mounthawk.

The boys were crowned Under 19 A All Ireland Schools Cup champions yesterday for the first time when the beat St Patrick’s Secondary School, Castleisland by 81 to 64 at the National Basketball Arena and the celebrations continued today when the team was presented to the school.

A massive cheer greeted them in the assembly area as captain Daire Kennelly held the cup aloft surrounded by his teammates.

Deputy Principal Pat Fleming congratulated the team for their dedication and hard work over the past number of years, as well as the coaching team of John Dowling, Jimmy Diggins and Lyndsey Moriarty.

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Addressing the school body, Mr Fleming said the school is making its mark nationally in the sporting and academic spheres and that the name Mounthawk is now known throughout the country.

Afterwards, Coach John Dowling explained how this victory had been years in the making.

“We have two All-Ireland titles in the past — the first years won about four years ago and the Under 15s in 2018 — and while they were great to win, the U19 ‘A’ is the one everyone wants and we have targeted it since the very beginning about 11 years ago.

“We got to the semi-finals twice and last year reached the final only to be beaten and that stood to us yesterday.” He praised the students for their hard work over the years. “These boys are in the gym at 7.30am until 10 to nine and then into class every morning,” he said.

John said it has been a real community effort within the school with caretakers Billy Walsh, Tom Clear and Declan Dowling opening the gym for the lads every morning, on Saturdays and some evenings, while the teaching staff have also played their part.

Mercy Mounthawk’s Steven Bowler, Leeroy Odiahi, Daire Kennelly and David Goreanskii at the school on Wednesday. Photo by Demrot Crean

“The lads in the team wanted to shake the hands of the teachers earlier in the staffroom as they feel it’s not just work in the basketball hall, but the lifeskills the teachers instill in them in the classroom that has brought them to this. It’s a holistic approach I feel we have down to a fine art with everyone pulling together in the school.”

And the basketball journey this year is far from over with more silverware up for grabs.

“We’re in the Under 16 All-Ireland semi-final in three weeks time and these boys are in U19 All-Ireland league quarter final on February 3 and if they win that they’ll play a semi on the same day. So they have a chance to do a double. We’ll let them enjoy this win but we’ll be back in the gym after a few days,” said John.

Captain, Daire Kennelly (left) addresses the students at the school on Wednesday.

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