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Home advantage stripped from Lakers at last minute

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National League Cup Quarter Final

Scotts Lakers St Paul's 85
IT Carlow 89

Despite losing a closely contested game, Scotts Lakers’ League Cup quarter final clash with IT Carlow in Cork on Monday will be remembered for events that happened off the court in the lead up to this fixture.

As Division 1B winners, the Lakers had earned the right of home advantage against Carlow (fourth place in Division 1A) and this was fixed for Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre on Sunday evening at 5.30pm. However, Carlow withdrew from fulfilling the fixture on Sunday morning claiming that adverse weather and snow conditions made it too difficult to travel. Basketball Ireland readily accepted their decision despite the fact that Dublin Lions travelled to Killorglin on the same day and the Carlow senior football team managed to make the journey to Belfast.

Under Basketball Ireland rules, when a league fixture is to be rescheduled, the home team must offer their opponents three alternative dates. With Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre unavailable on Monday, the Lakers offered Carlow several other options to play the match in Killarney this week. All options were rejected.

When Carlow refused to accept the offers, Basketball Ireland fixed the match for Neptune Stadium, Cork on Monday afternoon at 3pm. The governing body also stated that if Scotts Lakers refused to give up home advantage and play in Cork, the match would be awarded to Carlow. The Killarney side reluctantly agreed to play the match in Cork rather than give a walkover, having experience of the difficult appeals process in Basketball Ireland that rarely gives any satisfaction.

Within a matter of hours, the Scotts Lakers had been stripped of home advantage and the opportunity of playing in front of an estimated crowd of 600 people in the final home game of the season. The new scenario was playing in front of less than 30 people in an empty Neptune Stadium in a match that was fixed at short notice.

How a governing body that prides itself as a national sports organisation that claims to promote and develop basketball in Ireland facilitated this situation to develop is farcical, unjustifiable and reprehensible.

The game itself started brightly for Scotts Lakers and they led 15-11 at an early stage and were 27-20 in front at the end of the first quarter.

The Killarney side stayed in front to lead 45-40 at half time but Carlow enjoyed a productive third quarter to take the advantage, 59-62, at the end of the third quarter.
The Lakers trailed by 10 with 6:47 remaining but had a late rally to claw it back to 74-80 with 43 seconds left, before narrowing it to just a single basket, 82-84, with 13 seconds left.

Carlow went six points clear again before a huge three-pointer from Antuan Bootle cut it to 85-88 with four seconds remaining. It was, however, too late and Carlow held on to win a match that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

In any sporting decider, a team can accept being beaten by the better team on the day and Carlow won the match to advance to the semi-final. Certain factors can go against teams and these are often accepted too as part of the game.

Inconsistent and questionable refereeing decisions are under scrutiny in every sport. Referees have a thankless job and teams just accept the mistakes and hope that matters will even out over the course of a game or the season. Scotts Lakers didn't enjoy too many of the officials’ calls on Monday and the stats tell their own story. Carlow had a total of six fouls called against them in the entire 40 minutes compared to 19 fouls called against Scotts Lakers.

Unfortunately, this is part of the game and referees can often be inconsistent. Last week, some observers would suggest that Scotts Lakers appeared to benefit from some questionable calls in the match against Kilkenny in the final quarter. The foul count that night was 27 against Kilkenny and 20 on Lakers.

To win any match, a team has to beat the opposition and hope that the foul count is favourable and consistent. Scotts Lakers may have come up short here and would accept that on any day but having to deal with frustrating decision making by Basketball Ireland officialdom just makes the situation so disheartening and demoralizing.

St Paul's Basketball Club and Scotts Lakers will feel that their huge efforts to promote National League basketball deserve better. The biggest crowds all season at any National League venue have been at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre. Indeed, the crowds have been consistently bigger than any Super League team apart from Tralee Warriors. The Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre hosted a crowd of 950 people for a clash with Killorglin last October. This was a record crowd for a National League or Super League game in the history of Killarney basketball.

If the home game had gone ahead last Sunday or any other day this week, Scotts Lakers may not have brought in 950 again but an estimated crowd of 600 plus would have turned up for the knockout last home game of the season. Instead of playing before a crowd of 30 people in Cork, Scotts Lakers had earned the right of a home game and the opportunity to receive the National League Shield in front of their own supporters. Nobody can control the weather but Basketball Ireland's decision making leaves a lot to be desired on this occasion.

Scotts Lakers St Paul’s Killarney: Antuan Bootle 31, Dailian Mason 22, Dan Griffin 10, Mark Greene 8, Andrew Fitzgerald 6, Philip O'Connor 6, Dylan O'Sullivan 2.

IT Carlow: Jimmy Gordon 32, Kevin Donohoe 19, Alan O’Neill 19.

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The late Peggy O’Callaghan was a founder of Kilcummin Scor

By Sean Moriarty Tributes have been paid to Peggy O’Callaghan, who was laid to rest on Tuesday of this week. Peggy played a central role in all activities related to Kilcummin parish. She passed away peacefully at her home on Friday, January 7. Peggy and her husband Michael founded Kilcummin Scor in 1978 – the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Tributes have been paid to Peggy O’Callaghan, who was laid to rest on Tuesday of this week.

Peggy played a central role in all activities related to Kilcummin parish. She passed away peacefully at her home on Friday, January 7.

Peggy and her husband Michael founded Kilcummin Scor in 1978 – the music and drama arm of the local GAA club.

“It afforded the opportunity to females to participate in club activities long before ladies’ football was initiated and it brought many people into the club, many of whom remained involved in different capacities over the years,” said a club statement.

“She has left us a wonderful legacy and will be remembered fondly by those lucky enough to have met her.”

Peggy will be sadly missed by her husband Michael, sons Diarmuid and Shane, daughters-in-law Trisha and Áine, grandchildren Dara, Caoimhe, Donnacha, Siún and Éabha, brothers Seánie and Frank, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, extended family, neighbours and friends.

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Surprise: Details of town-centre inner relief road revealed

By Sean Moriarty Plans to link the Monsignor O’Flaherty Road with New St via a new road at Bohereen na Goun have been announced by Killarney Municipal District. Town engineer John Ahern told Wednesday’s Killarney Municipal District Meeting between elected councillors and senior council executives that Kerry County Council intends to make a compulsory purchase […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Plans to link the Monsignor O’Flaherty Road with New St via a new road at Bohereen na Goun have been announced by Killarney Municipal District.

Town engineer John Ahern told Wednesday’s Killarney Municipal District Meeting between elected councillors and senior council executives that Kerry County Council intends to make a compulsory purchase order on lands that will link the two town centre streets.

If plans come to fruition it will be possible for motorists on New St to get to the top of High St, adjacent to the Killarney Advertiser’s town centre office, without travelling through the town centre. The plan was first mooted as far back as 2016.

The announcement caught councillors off guard, it was one of the last topics discussed at the four-hour meeting, but it was broadly welcomed by all.

“This access will change the dynamic of traffic movement in the town forever,” said Cllr Niall Kelleher.

Further details of the surprise project are set to be revealed to elected members over the next four to six weeks.

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