UCD Marian couldn’t deal with a strong Dublin Thunder team on Friday night, writes Colm LakesDublin Thunder 87 – 45 UCD Marian
UCD Marian fell to an emphatic defeat to a very impressive Dublin Thunder team in the Division 1 National Cup final on Friday. Coming in as heavy underdogs, but with the knowledge of the unpredictability of the cup, there was no way that UCD would be happy to settle for the silver medal.
Dublin Thunder are, however, an immensely talented team, no doubt possessing the most quality in the competition. With players such as Lawrence “Puff” Summers, Michael Goj, Glen Wong, Isaac Westbrooks and Derek Courtney, it is no wonder that they are the envy of the country, despite not having a league to play in.
UCD started the game very well, taking an early lead with three three-pointers from Gary Edge, to take an 11-3 lead. However, Thunder were not going to allow UCD to pull away from them for very long, as they began to slowly claw their way back. Scores from Summers, Michael Goj and Derrick Courtney allowed Thunder to level and then take the lead towards the end of the first period.
UCD had to fight for every score, with Gary Edge, the only UCD player who seemed to be having any luck, leading the way. Thunder finished the quarter with a final second buzzer-beater from Michael Goj to deflate the Marian players and fans, and stretch the gap to six, 23-17 to the Northside club.
In the second quarter Thunder began to pull away from UCD. They played excellent defence to keep UCD’s scores to a minimum and scored freely themselves, with just too much of an offensive punch for Marian. Glen Wong and Michael Goj showed a killer instinct from the three-point line, Wong scoring two three-pointers in the quarter alone.
At the other end, UCD could only manage five points in the quarter and the crowd began to suspect that a blow-out was on its way. As the half drew to a close, the scoreline was not pretty for the Students, and the mood in the changing rooms was no doubt tense as they trailed 48-22. The game was Thunder’s to lose, and without the weight of expectation on their back, UCD continued to fight until the game ended.
Try as they did, there was no denying the superiority of Thunder. They were simply too good for their opponents, and would have torn apart every other team in the competition with their performance, excluding only the equally impressive Ballon. However, Marian came out in the third quarter defiant, and made sure that they created more scores for themselves than the abysmal second quarter. However, on the defensive end, they could not stop Thunder, who scored as much as they pleased. They had too many options, inside and out, for Marian to contain and continued to stretch their lead. By the end of the period, Thunder had one hand on the trophy, as the result was a foregone conclusion. At 71-37, it would take a number of miracles for any hope of a comeback.
The game’s tempo slowed in the fourth quarter, as Thunder eased off the pressure. Gary Edge continued to be UCD’s main scoring threat, and he finished the game as top scorer with eighteen points. However, even this valiant effort was not enough to save face, as Thunder ran out a forty-two point win and were crowned Division 1 National Champions.
UCD’s performance was far from shameful; they were simply beaten well by a special team in Irish basketball. Thunder are too good for Division 1, but are ineligible for the Superleague; should they maintain their current squad they could prove to be a dominant force in the Senior National Cup for many years to come.
With a final score of 87-45, Thunder player Derrick Courtney was awarded MVP for his efforts as he put in a stellar performance, but really any one of the Dublin Thunder players could have received the award. UCD will be upset by this loss, but currently positioned as they are at the top of the Dublin Senior Division 1, they will not lose heart or confidence.