UCD Marian – 77

Moycullen – 55

UCD Marian faced Moycullen in their final home game of the Nivea for Men’s basketball Superleague in the UCD Sport Centre last Saturday night. Marian went into the game second from bottom, with Dublin Inter being the only team behind them in the table. The win means that Marian are now one point behind Moycullen and DCU Saints, although they have played a game more than both teams.

The home side came in to the game on a rare run of good form, having won their last two games. This run was a nice change of fortunes from the run of eight straight losses that preceded it. On Saturday night, UCD made it three in a row, beating Moycullen 77-55.

UCD Captain Niall Meany scored the first point of the game, yet Moycullen Coach/Captain Salva Camps quickly replied to settle the early nerves. UCD continued to lead the game after Daniel James sunk two free throws following an infringement by the visitors, while forwards Matt Kelly and Meany both went for three-pointers to extend the home team’s lead.

Moycullen were clearly unsettled by UCD’s fast-paced approach to the game, and their confidence from the two recent wins shone through as they built up a 13 point lead early on in the game. The players were doing their best to avoid disappointing their home crowd in their last game of the season in Belfield.

Marian’s attack, which has stuttered for large parts of the season, was humming now as American Thomas Viglianco passed a through ball to Cathal Finn, who scored from an awkward angle, directly beneath the basket. Moycullen cut the lead down 10 points at the end of the first quarter after forward James O’Brien scored a three-pointer. At the end of the first quarter, Marian led by 23 to 13.

The second quarter was played in much the same vein as the first, as UCD continued to lead by a fairly comfortable score line, yet it was Moycullen who were first off the mark with a field goal from Stephen Tummon. This merely encouraged Meany and the Marian attack to crank up the pressure again as they responded with a field goal of their own.

Moycullen came back again, thanks largely to UCD’s indiscipline, as they found themselves six points closer to the hosts thanks to penalty shots alone. Despite this, one got the feeling that Moycullen were relying on UCD to beat themselves, as they seemed to lack the cutting edge in attack that as needed to unlock the home defence.

Marian once again turned the screw as Conor Meany continued to build on his already great performance. He scored four quick points and then set up Barry Drumm to slam dunk the ball through the Moycullen net. When the second quarter finally came to an end, UCD held a 15 point advantage, with the score sitting at 37 to 22.

After half time, Camps tried his best to secure a footing for his side, scoring five points on his own, including a three-pointer. In truth, he was the only real threat in Moycullen’s attack, as they were having difficulty all night with a stingy Marian defence.

Moycullen were guilty of unsporting behaviour in the middle of the third quarter. Camps allowed his frustration with the game to boil over and he elbowed Conor Meany, which resulted in Meany scoring two points from the resulting free throws. By this stage, UCD were leading Moycullen 53-39.

The last and final quarter saw Moycullen again try and start a come-back. It seemed that Marian had an answer for everything that was thrown at them, as they showed a poise that was seriously lacking in the early parts of the season.

Any momentum that Moycullen built up was immediately reversed, as Marian controlled the game. The visitors looked like they might be running up a head of steam until UCD stopped them in their tracks and Liam Conroy passed a long ball to Conor Meany, who converted the effort with aplomb.

Shortly afterwards, Meany again added two free throws to extend his team’s lead. Top scorer on the night Daniel James scored another three points to bring his total for the night to 23 points, but he was then dismissed after a fifth foul and had to watch the rest of the game from the bench.

Moycullen’s frustration was again shown when Dylan Costelloe tripped Conor Meany, resulting in another point for the home team. After Meany’s effort, UCD had increased their lead to twenty points, but this was brought back to eighteen when American Patrick Sullivan converted a passing sequence that centred on good play from Stephen Tummon.

Kevin Foley restored UCD’s 20 point lead when he converted a two point shot towards the end of the game. By the end of the night, UCD Marian had recorded their biggest win of the season, eventually bettering Moycullen’s score by an impressive 22 points.

One minute from time, Captain Niall Meany was substituted. This resulted in a standing applause from the crowd out of respect for his 19 years with the club and its academy, which has now come to an end.

UCD Marian now face three games on the road to finish their season, with two of them being against league-leaders UL Eagles, while the other is a battle of the two lowest ranked teams in the league, as they will face off against Dublin Inter in between the two Limerick games.

By Alex Rathke