Meany hope to bridge 40-year Marian gap

by James Hendicott

UCD Marian point guard Conor Meany goes into the Irish basketball Super League final against Pyrobel Killester optimistic about Marian’s chances of taking a first title in 40 years, and capping his own 13 years in the side.

Meany feels basketball is at the highest level it’s ever been in Ireland, largely thanks to an influx of European players, and hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps by repeating his feat of 1978 and lifting the trophy.

“It’s been a really competitive league, and I think everyone in Irish basketball knows there’s nothing between the teams,” Meany says of the Killester clash, which takes place at the National Basketball Stadium in Tallaght at 6pm on St Patrick’s day.

“Most top Irish teams have European and American players now.

“In the past, it was a little bit about which team had the best American player, with everyone else trying to get the ball to them.

“It’s much more balanced now, and the coaches are much closer to what’s going on in European basketball. New ideas come through here a lot quicker, and there’s a much higher quality than in the past as a result.”

“Not long ago, there were only a few really competitive teams, and you could only afford to lose two or three in a season and still be in the title race.

“We’ve lost five games this season, and so have Killester, and that’s unheard of for two finalists. With a few weeks to go, it could have been any one from five, and we feel like we’ve already had two cup finals at league level to get here.”

UCD Marian lost the cup final in January, a factor which plays into the desire now.

“Any pressure comes from within,” Meany tells us.

“It’s the biggest goal for us to win the league, and this is our best opportunity ever to get there. A lot of the Irish guys in our side have been together for years, and this is the moment.”

It’s not going to be an easier ride, though, and Marian are expecting a small margin one way or the other at the end of the action on Saturday.

“As far as I know we’re both fully fit,” he says. “We’re both high scoring teams but I think it might be a bit cagey.

“At some point in the third or fourth quarter a run of maybe eight points in a row might happen, and something like that could be critical.

“As an amateur team, it’s about doing the right thing consistently for 40-minutes, you can concede important scores so quickly.

“The lead will probably change loads, and with the quality of the teams now, there’s a real element on the unknown.”

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