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Battling Lakers come up short against league leaders Demons

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by Enda Walshe

National League Division 1
Scotts Lakers 71 UCC Demons 92
Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre

While the result might paint the picture of a one-sided game, it belies the fact that for long periods the home side gave as good as they got against the table-toppers from across the county bounds.

Indeed, early in the second half when Senan O’Leary drained two consecutive three pointers to make it a seven-point game, there was a definite whiff of a competitive game in the air, However, Demons player Stefan Manojovic put any hopes of a home win to bed with four three pointers in the third quarter and the Lakers could not get within touching distance again.

There is no denying that Demons were full value for their win with Kyle Hosford conducting the orchestra, but what could not be hidden was the way the Lakers went about the game as they battled all the way to the end.

It is widely acknowledged that Demons are a Super League team in waiting and though they were slow to settle, they eventually got going in the second part of the opening quarter. Only Jamie O’Sullivan and Rui Saravia got on the scoresheet for the Lakers as Tala Fam Thiam and Hosford helped Demons to a 23-8 lead.

The presence of Paul Clarke, who was still nursing an injury, coincided with Lakers’ best periods as his defence and reading of the game made a big difference. He was central to one of the scores of the night with slick passing seeing Ben Miller laying up and completing a three-point play. With O’Sullivan and Daniel Carroll on song, the Lakers stayed in touch at the break, trailing 31-43.

The Lakers’ cause wasn't helped by a facial injury to top scorer Emilian Grudov. He sat out a lot of the first half and his influence on the game was never really significant thereafter.

The third quarter saw Demons extend their lead to 23 points, despite the best efforts of Saravia (who had his best outing to date), Miller and O’Leary.

A notable introduction to National League basketball came in the shape of 17-year-old Luke Crowley, son of Kerry GAA legend Johnny, and he set about his task with gusto. He was later joined by the highly rated Jack O’Sullivan for his home debut.

Baskets from Grudov, Clarke, Miller and two further three pointers from O’Leary meant the Lakers kept their tempo going to the very end. On reflection it can be noted they outscored their illustrious opponents in the second and fourth quarters.

It's nights like these that the young players learn from and the big home support could fully see and appreciate the wholehearted effort of the squad.

“We played well in periods but at other times we might have held onto the ball for too long, and defensively at times communication was lacking,” head coach Jarlath Lee said.

“This is a process with such a young team, it will take time. But we will get there.”

The Lakers are on the road again on November 27 as they travel to Portlaoise looking to avenge their cup defeat at the hands of the Panthers. The next home game sees Limerick Sport Eagles visit the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre on Saturday, December 11.

SCOTTS LAKERS: Ben Miller (16), Rui Saravia (15), Senan O’Leary (14), Jamie O’Sullivan (10), Emilian Grudov (7), Daniel Carroll (5), Paul Clarke (4), Lorcan Keane, Mark Sheehan, Jack O’Sullivan, Jason Lee.

UCC DEMONS TOP SCORERS: Tala Fam Thiam (26), Kyle Hosford (17), Stefan Manojovic (14).

Sport

Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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