The Castlerea Kings made history last weekend as they became the first team ever to win both the league and cup competitions in the Lonleitros Basketball League.
The Kings demolished the Mayo Gladiators in Friday’s Top 4 semi-final to set up a final showdown with Longford Torpedoes on Sunday night. The Torpedoes had scraped through their semi-final against Mohill Mavericks on Saturday.
The atmosphere was electric at The Enterprise Hub in Castlerea for finals day last Sunday as the Sligo All Stars clinched the men’s shield and the Castlebar Mustangs won the women’s Top 4 Cup in the curtain raisers.
Then it was time for the main event involving the two top seeds in Lonleitros basketball. The Kings and Torpedoes had been involved in two titanic clashes during the regular league season with the Castlerea outfit inflicting the Longford side’s sole defeat in the first thirteen weeks of fixtures.
If the January league meeting between the two at the same venue was anything to go by, then those gathered at the Hub last Sunday night were in for a treat. That showdown required overtime and was eventually settled 111-104 in the Kings’ favour.
The Kings started nervy but grew into Sunday’s final backed by their noisy home support. Come half-time the league champions led 50-38 and were playing with confidence.
Much of Castlerea’s success is built on robust defence and fast breaks. Last Sunday the Kings reacted to every point conceded and refused to allow the Torpedoes to gain a foothold. By the end of the third quarter they had a twenty point cushion (75-55) and one hand on the cup.
The task facing Longford in that final quarter was to prove insurmountable. The Kings had been undefeated at home all season and never looked like losing last Sunday evening.
It was most fitting that Kings captain Danny Doherty added the final blows of the season with a scythe to the rim to complete a 93-70 win and complete Castlerea’s historic double of league and cup. Thomas Callaghan, who top scored with 25, was named MVP on a night when everything went right for the reigning Lonleitros Baskeball League champions.
There was nothing left for the captain and his teammates to do but thank everyone who had contributed to the momentous season, including team sponsors, An Gairdin Bia and Seanie Mac’s Barbers, Joe Henry for his support and coordination, Helen Fleming, Castlerea Cosmos Ladies Basketball, The Hub, Brian Stenson, Benny O’Connell and Austin Waldron.