Portlaoise Panthers men’s team were left reeling after a buzzer beater gave Kilkenny the win last Tuesday in St. Marys Hall. A brilliant fourth quarter comeback from the home side just fell short of the mark as Kilkenny got a last gasp converted jump shot by Julian O’Keeffe to take the points.
Portlaoise Panthers 61
TLB Kilkenny 63
Portlaoise got off to an excellent start from the tip-off and raced into an early lead after great inside play from Dan Debosz and Jack Scully. In defence the home side were containing Kilkenny’s inside threat but unfortunately they began to find their range from the perimeter. Portlaoise kept their noses in front from the clinical shooting from outside by Gary Donnelly after quick movement of the ball in offence. The Panthers men took a slender two point lead into the second quarter.
A lapse in concentration at the beginning of the second quarter from the home side gave Kilkenny the initiative as they punished a very open zone defence with accurate shooting by Noel O’Hara and Brian Hogan. The introduction of Evan Maher gave Portlaoise a new lease of life as he controlled the play from the point while also contributing two great baskets. Kilkenny finished the stronger at the end of the half with Noel O’Hara converting on the fast break to give his side a four point lead.
The third quarter started with both sides trading scores inside, Debosz the beneficiary of some bad Kilkenny defence. Portlaoise changed up their defence to man-to-man in the hope of closing out on Kilkenny’s outside threat but great offensive plays got their sharp-shooters free to extend their lead once again. Portlaoise were finding it hard to break down the visitors zone defence and would have been further behind but for converted free throws. Kilkenny took an eight point lead into the final quarter.
Portlaoise knew they had to come out of the blocks quickly in the fourth quarter and they did exactly this with Greg Dunne hitting a big three pointer from the corner in the first offence. This was quickly followed with baskets by Craig Scully and Dan Debosz. With three minutes left in the game Panthers had taken the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter. But Kilkenny fought back and had again drew level with under a minute remaining. A basket each from Debosz and Kilkenny’s O’Hara saw the game under the twenty-four second mark and Kilkenny in possession on the last play. Portlaoise pushed out and pressured the ball but Julian O’Keeffe slipped inside the defence to hit the winning basket on the buzzer.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Shane O’Neill, Neil Fennell, Jack Scully, Dan Debosz, Pierce Fagan, Peter Duignan, Evan Maher, David Keane, Gary Donnelly, Peter O’Sullivan, Greg Dunne, Craig Scully.