Marian finally end their wait

by James Hendicott

UCD Marian held their nerve to take the Irish Superleague Basketball title in a playoff by the narrowest of margins on St Patrick’s Day, topping the table for the first time in forty years.

Marian overturned rivals Pyrobel Killester by a single point, after Killester had leveled the score with 12 seconds left on the clock. The pair had proved inseparable over the course of the normal league season, having both lost five of their 22 games, resulting in a rare one-time play-off to decide the champions.

Conor Meany’s father Paul was part of the team that won the title back in 1978 and followed in his father’s footsteps.

Conor starred at point guard and said after the game: “I don’t know what to say really.That was a great game, either team could have won it.

“To win the league is amazing, it’s a family club and there’s been so much work behind the scenes. Dad won when he was 27 years old and he wouldn’t have thought his youngest son would be 31 before they would do it again.”

Mike Garrow’s free throw proved to be the difference after Killester had equalised with a long-distance three pointer with just those 12 seconds remaining. Pyrobel were to have another chance, though they couldn’t get a shot away in time to turn the game in the dying seconds.

“This year we’ve had a great group,” Meany continued. “We kind of stumbled after the cup final for a few weeks, but I think we redeemed ourselves.

“We’re going to make sure we enjoy it for the next few days. When we won the cup final here against Killester, we had a free throw and missed the second one, and they had a long shot to win it, and we’re just standing there, hoping.

“I think the shot clock had gone before Royce got the ball, but I don’t know.

“I’ll have to watch it back and enjoy it, because you can’t really enjoy it at the time!”

Marian head coach Ioannis Liapakis said after the game “Hopefully we don’t have to wait another 40 years for the next one!

“It was a long way to get here. It took us five years together.

“Five long, hard years. They worked so hard. And finally we did it.

“In fairness, Killester played amazing, they also deserved to win, it was a flip of the coin in the end.

“But at last we had a little bit of luck and the only thing I feel right now is relief – relief for this 14 guys who stuck with me for five years, who worked hard, and finally – we did it. We’re going to enjoy this moment.”

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