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Home double-header for Lakers

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The Scotts Lakers return home this weekend with a double-header of fixtures on Friday and Saturday night. On Friday at 8.15pm one of the league’s form teams, the Portlaoise Panthers, are in the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre.

The Laois club have only won six times this season but three of those victories have come in the last four games. University Kokomo graduate Desean Hampton is a key player for the Panthers along with Gary Morrissey, Seán Condon and Davin McEvoy.

On Saturday at 7.30pm, the University of Ulster will be in town looking to cement their playoff spot. The National Cup winners have Cork man Conor O’Sullivan on their books, while former SETU Carlow player Nate Shafer is another man to keep an eye on.

The Lakers will be hoping to bounce back from their recent six-point defeat away to the Dublin Lions. For long periods it looked like the visitors were going to end the February tour of Ireland with a much-needed and merited win but they just couldn't stick with the Lions in the final quarter.

There were several positives for Jarlath Lee despite the defeat. 18-year-old Eoin Carroll put in an outstanding performance, hitting 18 points and using his height to great effect around the basket. Senan O’Leary hit the same tally, including four three-pointers. Mark Sheehan, another teenager, hit a hat-trick of threes. Alongside Jack O’Sullivan, these four players have made a real impact this season. Add in Oisín Spring and the older Jamie O’Sullivan, still the right side of 21, and the Lakers have the nucleus of a squad for years to come.

On the night the Lakers hit an impressive fourteen from beyond the arc as the reliable Jack Ferguson and captain Rui Saraiva battled all the way.

PLAYOFFS

The St Paul’s women’s team are still on track to reach the playoffs, despite last weekend’s double overtime defeat to the Cavan Eagles.

Paul’s just came up short against the runaway Northern Conference leaders at the Virginia Show Centre but they are still in a strong position with two games to go. The top two from each conference advance to the post-season and James Fleming’s team are currently second in the south, one win behind Portlaoise. Finishing in first place would be preferrable as it would mean avoiding the Eagles in the playoffs.

The penultimate game of the regular season is an away trip to the National Basketball Arena where Griffith College Templeogue will provide the opposition. The Dublin side have had a strong season. They have put all the teams below them to the sword with relative ease and have been extremely competitive against the top teams in the division. Tip-off on Saturday is at 5pm.

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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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