In one of the most dramatics weekends in recent memory, UL Eagles let a golden opportunity to wrap up the Nivea For Mens SuperLeague title slip through their fingers as they lost to a red-hot UCD Marian in Limerick.
Eagles took to the court knowing that a victory would win them the league after their closest challengers UCC Demons had suffered a shock loss in Galway to Moycullen.
Despite the incentive of achieving a historic repeat, the home side started flat and let the men from Dublin jump out to an early lead. Apart from a purple patch late in the first half that actually had them leading at the break, Eagles played second fiddle to Marian for most of the contest with the visitors up seven entering the closing minutes.An inspired Rob Taylor, who finished the game with 29 points, wouldnt let his team lose that easily and converted an incredible three point shot to give the defending champions some hope late.
Big scores from Dan James and Thomas Viglianco for Marian quickly quelled that comeback however with Marian going on to win by six, 72 78.
We played great team defence all game. The overall effort from the team was absolutely fantastic, commented Marian head coach Fran Ryan afterwards, who did single out the efforts on one player in particular.
Barry Drumm was just brilliant for us. He came in and changed the whole tempo of the game and pushed the fastbreak.
They (Eagles) had a good run either side of halftime but even then we felt like we had taken their best shot and were still with them, so we felt good about that and always had confidence we were going to win, added Ryan.
While Eagles are still top of the table with just two weekends to go, the loss will frustrate their players and fans knowing that a win would have sealed the clubs first back to back Nivea For Mens SuperLeague titles.
They had been handed that opportunity this weekend after their closest challenger, UCC Demons suffered a shock loss in Galway to a young Moycullen team.
Busy chasing fourth place and the final spot in the Champions Trophy, Moycullens work effort and fast paced style of play eventually proved too much for Demons as the westerners emerged victorious by five points, 85 80.
We played with great desire all game, said Moycullen head coach Salva Camps.
We were first to every loose ball, won the rebound battle and got up and down the court quicker. A lot of people might say that Demons have more talent than us on paper but I thought we out-worked them and Im very proud of all the players for their effort.
To round of the weekend of upsets, Bord Gais Neptune lost at home to Dublin Inter to make it a losing weekend for all of the three top teams in the Nivea For Mens SuperLeague.
Standing in for the absent Irmantas Griskas, Inters temporary head-coach Toomes Iives pointed to his teams improved fitness as a reason for the win.
We are definitely in much better shape now than when we first came up to this league at the start of the season.
We fell off in the second half a lot before this but not now and not in this game. We kept on pushing after being in control early on. It did get close towards the end but we kept our heads, unlike in other games, said Iives.
The only fixture on Sunday handed Moycullen a chance to make it two wins from two and put them in themselves in the driving seat for fourth place. However a determined DCU Saints proved too much for the westerners, winning 56 72.
We had been playing well but had not won in four games so to get the win here is great, especially after Moycullen had won such a big game the day before against Demons, said Saints head coach Dave Donnelley.
We got the ball inside well I thought and when they collapsed we kicked to shooters who made their shots.
Basketball Ireland Weekend Results
Saturday February 23rd
Nivea For Mens SuperLeague
Moycullen 85 (43) (P Sullivan 28, S Tummon 16, C Nihill 15) UCC Demons 80 (43) (C Cuffe 16, K Walker 14, C OSullivan 14)
Bord Gais Neptune 81 (36) (M McGinn 22, G Noonan 18, D Townes 15) Dublin Inter 85 (40) (M Tamusauskas 19, A Statkus 17, A Dimiciukis 13)
UL Eagles 72 (34) (R Taylor 29, J Kileen 15, N Campbell 10) UCD Marian 78 (31) D James 26, T Viglianco 15, C Meany 9)
Basketball Ireland Mens Division One
Fr Mathews 82 (38) (P ODriscoll 30, M Brusivics 16, E O Callaghan 15) Matt OFlaherty Chemist Titans 115 (61) (P Tongo 34, T Mustaha 20, P Pelzdius 19)
Sunday February 24th
Nivea For Mens SuperLeague
Moycullen 56 (25) (P OBrien 14, P Sullivan 11, S Camps 7) DCU Saints 72 (40) (J Mcguirk 18, J Donnelly 15, E Quill 11)
Basketball Ireland Mens Division One
Ballon BC 79 (33) (M Rubstavicius 32, S Caniza 15, R Eidukas 9) Donegal Town () 82 (29) ( W Timmony 30, P McHugh 26, Z Balagon 9)
Blue Demons 71 (41) (K Hosford 18, S McCarthy 16 T OHalloran 12) Maree 55 (31) (D Hansberry 15, T Mitkus 13, C Crowley 10)
Courtesy ... Cian Nihill ...www.basketballireland.ie Daniel James (189-F/G-90)
32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he avera... [read more]
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (LKL) signed 32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he averaged 9.2ppg, 2.6rpg and 4.6apg. The other team he played shortly was Anadolu Efes in Turkish league. In 5 Euroleague games he got 4.0ppg, 1.4rpg and 1.0apg. McGrath also spent pre-season at La ICL Manresa (also in Liga Endesa) that year. He was a member of Irish Senior National Team between 2006 and 2008. McGrath is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in France (Cholet Basket), Greece (PAOK Thessaloniki, AEK Athens and Egaleo), Italy (Openjobmetis VA, Verona and BancaTercas), Lithuania (Zalgiris) and Russia (Spartak St.Petersburg). McGrath attended Providence College until 2006 and it will be his eleventh (!!!) season as a professional player.
Ian O'Leary agreed terms with Fuenlabrada - 12 days ago
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30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. A... [read more]
Montakit Fuenlabrada (Liga Endesa) strengthened their roster with addition of 30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. Among other achievements O'Leary played in the final of WCC Tournament in 2009. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB Silver Forward of the Year award back in 2011. O'Leary has played previously for four other teams: Blancos de Rueda, Palencia Baloncesto, Vigo and Oviedo CB. He attended Saint Mary's College of California until 2009 and it will be his eighth season in pro basketball. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Overlooked somewhat at college but has blossomed in Europe. Strong going to the basket and has good athletic ability. Working on being more consistent outside the 3pt line but provides a real mis match for teams.
A very good athlete he is able to play several positions effectively because of a great mix of size and quickness. Rebounds like a center but runs like a guard. Very effective mid range jumper causes a lot of problems cause he is able to just shoot over top of most defenders. Can handle the ball and has no problem handling pressure and being a release valve for any backcourt. Aggressive offensive mind set makes him lead by example. At college played in a system to showcase NBA Draft choice Patrick Mills, but his performance in Europe will be very different as he will be allowed to show his complete game. Has very long arms and consistently tips and blocks shots from the backside and weak side. A very complete player is capable of playing at very high levels as he continues to develop. Shoots the deep ball quite well and is extending his range which for a player his size will make him deadly.
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