REPORT/PHOTOS: Warriors Dethrone Champs To Set Up Cup Semi-Final Date With Éanna

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Alan Cantwell reports on Warriors win at the Complex on Saturday night…

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 76

Pyrobel Killester 64

Action from the game. Photo by Liam Ryan

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors are through to the semi-final of the Hula Hoops Pat Duffy National Cup for the second season in a row by dethroning the reigning champions Pyrobel Killester after a hard fought 76-64 win at the Tralee Sport Complex last Saturday night.

As if by way of exorcising the memory of last season’s defeat to the same opposition in the Cup semi-final, the Warriors opened with a statement of clear intent with Eoin Quigley, Daniel Jokubaitis and Kieran Donaghy all firing in three point efforts to seize the early initiative.

However the energetic Mintautas Bulanovas arced in an effort from distance for Killester and followed that up with a score from inside after the Warriors nemesis last season Ciaran Roe opened his account to see the visitors play their way right back into the contest.

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Quigley and Kason Harrell traded scores before Jon Lawton banked in a super score and Rap Buivydas drilled a stunning three to give the Warriors a 19-11 lead at the end of the first.

The Warriors pushed their lead out to 14 early in the second with free throws from Keith Jumper and scores from inside from Jokubaitis and Paul Dick.

However the Warriors defence which has been so solid and difficult for teams to negotiate, began to give up fouls and very quickly used up their allowance for the quarter. Killester’s route back into the game rested almost entirely on converting the resultant free throws and despite scoring 12 they crucially missed 9.

The Warriors steadied again with major scores from Lawton, Quigley and Fergal O’Sullivan keeping the Cup champions at arms length and when Kieran Donaghy was unerring with two from two from the line the Warriors led 38-25 as the sides headed for the long break.

Action from the game. Photo by Liam Ryan

The Killester team talk at the break had an instant effect for the visitors at the start of the third as three quick fire threes from Isaac Westbrooks, Bulanovas and Tomas Ferandez had the Warriors back in sight.

But the Warriors replied yet again with scores from Buivydas, Paul Dick, Quigley and Ivan Bogdanovic to maintain their double figure lead. Westbrooks fired in another huge effort from distance and Harrell followed that with his third of the night to cut the gap to 6.

Quigley and Lawton combined to push the lead back out to 12 with a three pointer each but Harrell and Michael Westbrookes combined to cut the gap back to eight.

Lawton had the final say in the quarter as he hit three from three from line following a foul outside the arc to see the hosts take a 57-46 lead down the home stretch.

Action from the game. Photo by Liam Ryan

The Warriors looked the side more likely to progress early in the final quarter when Bogdanovic and Jokubaitis were both in range, but Killester weren’t going to relinquish their Cup title without a fight and drew the Warriors right back into a battle with scores from inside and outside from Fernandez as well as efforts from Isaac Westbrooks and O’Brien.

When Bulanovas landed a jaw dropping three the Warriors lead was down to a single score at 61-58.

Paul Dick then sprang into action with an incredible drive to the basket and followed that with an equally impressive step back jumpshot from the corner to ease the worries of the Warriors faithful who were now in full voice.

Daniel Jokubaitis also answered Warriors call hitting the Cup holders for seven straight points including a vital steal and game winning three to put 11 between the sides in the shadows of the winning post.

Rap Buivydas capped another impressive display with a lay-up before Jon Lawton made doubly sure with two from two from the line to see the Warriors eliminate last years Cup champions and set up a mouthwatering semi-final date with DBS Éanna in Cork in early January.

Scorers:

Warriors: Jonathan Lawton 18, Daniel Jokubaitis 15, Eoin Quigley 13

Killester: Mintautas Bulanovas 18, Tomas Fernandez 14, Kason Harrell 13

• Next up for the Warriors is a top of the table clash with Coughlan C&S Neptune at the Tralee Sports Complex next Saturday night with tip off at 7.30pm.

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