We Back! It’s been a while but we have a new Podcast looking back at the top 10 moments in Irish Basketball in 2018. Niall is joined by UCD Marian and Basketball Ireland’s own Conor Meany to discuss the list. Let us know what you think? What did we miss, what’s too high or too low? Here’s looking forward to 2019!
With both teams coming off back to back wins this game was billed to be a closely contested affair. The Dublin rivals have always been apart of fierce rivalry games and this did not disappoint.
UCD started the match as they have every game so far, with intense defense that forced an experienced starting Saints lineup into poor offenses and turnovers. Marian took advantage of this with a pair of baskets from John Galvin and a pair of corner jumpers from Matt Kelly. As Saints settled into the first quarter it was man-mountain Martins Provizors that ignited the mini comeback towards the end of the first. Keith Anderson’s fancy fastbreak dish for an easy layup and the foul for Martins meant the first quarter finished tied at 13.
John Galvin showing his dynamic finishing ability
Second quarter started as it finished with Provizors grabbing 2 early offensive boards to give DCU the early edge. As soon as it appeared DCU had a foothold two 3’s from Cathal Finn quickly put Marian back in front. Saints offense could not get going and only a bail out jumper from Michael Chubb could end their scoring drought. The referees choked the life out of the whole game and Saints frustration boiled over with a technical foul on Saints coach David Donnelly. Marian missed 3 out of the 4 free throws, setting the tone for their own downfall later in the game. DCU trailed at the half by 10.
Matt Kelly at the line for one of his and one free throws
Matt Kelly opened the 3rd with 2 quick baskets including an and one, he had taken Pat Glover out of the game with stifling defense throughout. Though UCD’s defense was still strong fouls stopped the game too often to build up any rhythm on either side. Once the play opened up a little it was Saints that took the initiative. Martins’ layup and a Keith Anderson 3 cut the lead to 6. UCD pushed the lead back to 9 by the end of the 3rd.
The 4th started as the rest of the game had done, fouls and turnovers for both sides. A clear path foul by Conor Meany and no good offences for the first 5 minutes of the final quarter gave DCU the lifeline needed. The lead was down to 3 and Marian were in team fouls with 5 minutes to go. The go to offense of John Galvin was completely nullified by DCU’s Eoin Quill who shut down the american big man through hustle and beating the big man to the spot every time. Saints took the lead after UCD coach Sasa got a technical foul after a foul was called that he cared very little for. Saints made all 4 of the free throws. Breakaway layups and free throws closed the game out for Saints and eventually ran out 62-53 winners.
DCU ran out easy winners in the end
With Marian in control for the entire game it was early fouls in the 4th and indiscipline that cost them the game. That said Saints still had to win the game and that they did by hitting their free throws and converting on turnovers. Eoin Quill’s defense on John Galvin was the big turning point allowing Marian nothing simple through the entire 4th quarter.
UCD Marian welcomed Neptune for their first home game of the new Superleague season. After the disappointment of their loss to Killester last week UCD were looking to bounce back with a win. Though they got it, they did not have it all their own way and in the end it felt like Neptune lost the game rather than UCD winning it.
UCD win first home game of the season in front of a packed Belfield crowd
UCD’s new coach Sasa Punosevac was the most exciting entity on the court for the first few minutes of the game as Neptune ran out to an early 5 nil lead. Though they lead Neptune did not run a single set offense for the first 6 minutes, early full court guard pressure and the shot clock dictated the tempo of Neptune’s attacks. A big block from Darren Townes announced the Neptune american’s arrival and he kept the visitors scoreboard ticking when they appeared to be out of a comfortable rhythm. The UCD american John Galvin was the center point of the offense all game. His post play was unstoppable all game and even the outstanding shot blocking of Neptune’s Paul Stapleton could not stop the 6’10 center from dominating around the rim.
Conor Meany scratching his sidies
The first half ended with UCD up 3 and the second half started in a scrappy mood with early fouls on both sides choking the life out of the quarter. Neptune captain Ger Noonan got called for a technical foul when he thought the ref was wrong and offered his opinion. Townes picked up his 4th foul and sat for the remainder of the 3rd and start of the 4th quarter, this left a hole offensively that they could not fill to keep in touch with UCD. Conor James drilled a bail out 3 on the shot clock buzzer to start the 4th quarter and then with 4:20 left Townes gets called for a silly over the back foul forcing him out of the game and effectively handing UCD the game.
The match finished 70-64 with John Galvin leading all scorers with 26 points. Do-everything forward (and captain for the day) Dan James was very good throughout and Liam Conroy was assured in possession of the ball all game giving UCD a solid platform to work off every time down the floor. UCD should improve throughout the season and for Neptune I hope Darren Townes can shoulder a serious load for an entire season.
The ESPN Basketall Tournament is now a regular fixture in the Irish basketball calendar with teams from all over the island and abroad making the trip to Belfast for a long weekend of competitive basketball. Ten teams took part, Belfast Star, Ulster Elks, UCD, Éanna, Dublin Thunder, London Mercs, Queens, Andytown Tigers, Kilkeel Knights and North Star with the Dublin Thunder lifting the trophy for the second year in a row and Isaac Westbrooks picking up MVP honours.
It was a tremendous weekend for Northern Ireland basketball as the UUJ men’s team went undefeated at the inter-varsities. This year’s tournament was held at the top quality sports facility at the University of Limerick, unquestionably the best basketball facility on the Island. The UUJ side competed in a tense final against UCD who boasted the talented James’ brothers and the ultra competitive [Editor: and über animated] Kevin Foley at the head coach position.
The game was close throughout but UUJ maintained their fourth-quarter lead to come out victorious thanks to clutch shooting by Letterkenny native, Aodhan Hickey, which included a deep three-pointer and a pair of free-throws [Editor: Does this mean he will finally shake the nickname ‘rookie’ to something a bit more flattering, say ‘clutch’ for example?]. A top-class and all-around quality performance from Paddy McGaharan [Editor: I wish it was in the genes – it’s not] spurred the co-captain, and final year student, onto a game-high 19-points. The 6’0 two-guard from Belfast was later announced as the Most Valuable Player of the game.
As always, it was a wonderfully enjoyable weekend, both on and off the court, for the five teams from N.I; QUB, UUJ and BMC. The Varsities tournament is notorious as one of the best events on the Irish basketball calendar [Editor: I agree…but what exactly about the weekend do people love so much?]
Conor James opened the scoring for the Men’s A final from the free throw line as a result of Aodhan Hickey’s reaching foul. Both teams showed their fine shooting touch from outside as both sides exchanged 3 pointers. Paul Cummins converted his ‘and one’ to give UUJ a narrow lead (11-10) after 5 minutes. Enda Walsh (UCD) provided some interior presence for the Dublin team and was able to draw fouls on UUJ’s Conor Johnson. Daryl Shazier (UUJ) seen the quarter out with a contested three to give the Northern university a six point lead, 21-15.
Daryl Shazier continued his hot hand by opening the second quarter with another three. Defensive stops gave UUJ the upperhand whilst UCD moved to a 3-2 zone to try and null the outside shooting ability of UUJ. Paddy McGaharan hit a pair of jumpers to extend UUJ’s lead to 28-19 and saw UCD Head Coach Kevin Foley call a time out to re-organise his team. Dan James attacked the UUJ defense and scored some heavily contested shots to bring back UCD within four points. Daryl Shazier returned the six point cushion to see the first half finish 37-31.
The third quarter began with both team trading baskets but Conor Johnson (UUJ) hit a big three with five minutes left in the third quarter to put his side up by seven points. Paddy McGaharan battled hard on offensive boards which resulted in a converted layup. Defensive stops by UCD lead by Conor James seen the lead slip to just three points. UUJ lead 48-45. The final period opened with both teams increasing their intensity lead by UCD’s Elliot Saint-Gilles going coast to coast through traffic for the floater. Aodhan Hickey responded with his own floater as he soared over the UCD defence.
Co-captains with cup
Aodhan continued to torment the UCD defence by scoring a huge 3 with Dan James hand in his face to put UUJ up five points. Cathal Finn (UCD) scored five consecutive points to make it an even game with 1.09 on the clock, 61-61. Conor Johnson hit the game winning three with 40 seconds to go to. UCD had a chance to take the last shot of the game but a costly turnover and foul sent Aodhan Hickey to the line. Aodhan Hickey connected on both shots to confirm the trophy was returning to Belfast. The final score finished 67-61 and Paddy McGaharan was awarded the game’s MVP.
Undefeated throughout the tournament
Source: Basketball Ireland [Editor: more specifically… thanks to Conor Lilly – happy now?]