Marian ready for two must win ties with Killester

UCD Marian captain Conor Meany says his club face two ‘must-win’ games in two weeks against long-running rivals Pyrobel Killester.

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UCD’s Mike Garrow reaches with Belfast’s Paddy McGaharan for the ball. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Men’s Basketball National Cup semi-final
UCD Marian 91
Belfast Star 63

UCD Marian captain Conor Meany says his club face two ‘must-win’ games in two weeks against long-running rivals Pyrobel Killester.

The Students sealed their place in a second successive National Cup final with a resounding 91-63 win over Belfast Star at UCC to set up a final date with Killester, who squeezed past Tralee Warriors.

They will meet at the National Basketball Arena on Saturday, January 26th, but first the reigning league champions host Killester with both desperate for three points to keep their title hopes burning.

An inconsistent first half of the season, in which they’ve lost five of their six games, leaves UCD sixth in the table but they’ve begun to show the form that took them to both of the major national finals in 2018.

“A common thing we heard over the weekend was that we looked like we did last year,” Meany told the Dublin Gazette.

“We really wanted to get back to that cup final and we knew there was a huge amount on the line, so once our energy was there we knew we’d be able to deliver.”

Point guard Meany was his side’s joint-top scorer with 18 points as they swatted aside a Belfast side packed with internationals, while Mike Garrow also managed the same number.

Mariusz Markowicz landed 11 points for Marian, who pride themselves on the ability to score from anywhere on the court, and Star were unable to live with their varied threat.

“Our team is very balances scoring-wise, so when we play well it tends to be eight or nine guys contributing.

“We don’t have just one guy who’s going to score 35 points for us.

“It is very difficult to defend against a team when they do have balanced scoring like that, so it’s a real positive for us.”

Attention now turns to Saturday’s visit of Killester and, with so much at stake for both sides, Meany is adamant that neither will be able to hold anything in reserve for the following week.

“The league is still very much up for grabs for a lot of people.

“Killester are only one game off the lead and we’re two games off the lead, so neither team can afford to lose and stay in the title hunt.

“Neither team can hide much this weekend because it’s a must-win game.

“We played Killester in a lot of games over the last few years and we kind of split them down the middle.

“We’ve won some of them, they’ve won some of them, so I don’t think there’ll be any surprises over the next two weeks.

“It’ll be, on the day, who executes better and whoever does will come away with the win.”