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Lakers to make long-awaited return to Killarney home

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National League: Division 1 South

Scotts Lakers v UCC Demons

Saturday at 7.30pm

Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre

The National League season is in full swing by this stage but from a Killarney perspective, something has been missing. With the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre being used as a vaccination facility, the Lakers have been without a proper home for the first month of the campaign. Their two “home” fixtures to date have been staged 25km away in Castleisland. Both matches have ended in defeat.

All that will change this Saturday night as the St Paul’s senior team make their long-awaited return to the venue known locally as the Aura, or the Auracle (a nod to the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena, traditionally one of the loudest venues in the NBA).

The Aura has seen some incredible nights since the Lakers returned to top-level basketball in 2017. Now, after a long layoff due to the pandemic, the club are hoping that supporters will return in their droves to see a new-look team that is packed with young, local talent.

Imports Ben Miller (Canada), Emilian Grudov (Bulgaria) and Rui Saravia (Portugal) will lead the way alongside Killarney men Mark O’Shea and Paul Clarke, but the rest of the squad is comprised of talented teenagers like Jamie O’Sullivan and Senan O’Leary.

Standing in their way this weekend are the UCC Demons, an imposing side who have won their opening four league games in convincing fashion. The Cork outfit also made light work of Ulster University in the first round of the President’s Cup with Tala Fam Thiam and American Andre Kennedy splitting 50 points in a 88-61 win.

It will certainly be a tough match-up for a Lakers team still finding their feet but head coach Jarlath Lee believes that last weekend’s 94-59 victory over WIT has given them a timely lift.

"We needed the confidence boost,” Lee admitted after the Lakers picked up their first win in four attempts. “We should have won our first game but complacency creeped in. I’m delighted that we never let that happen tonight.

“Ben Miller displayed great leadership and decision-making, especially in the second half. Senan O’Leary showed why I have him as a starter at the age of 17 by scoring 16 points, and Jamie O Sullivan, another teenager, had 20 points.

"We’re building for the future and we are taking the right steps. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Daniel Carroll was on the scoresheet again with four points, but I was mainly impressed with his defence. Mark Sheehan is always positive, always ready. A great kid to be a part of any team.

“But we will get back to work on Monday night and focus on Demons. It’s a home game so we'd really love a big crowd and loud fans to help us."

The club have reminded supporters that season and patron tickets are now available from any club officer.

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Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan

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Adam Moynihan reports from the Fitzgerald Stadium

National League Division 1

Kerry 3-16 Monaghan 0-14

HT: Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 0-6

A spectacular second-half goal by surprise inclusion Paudie Clifford helped Kerry to an impressive 11-point over Monaghan in Killarney this afternoon.

The All-Star forward wasn’t named on the initial panel of 27 but when his name was called out as No. 26 before the game, a loud cheer rang out around the O’Sullivan Stand. Kerry fans had to wait until the 46th minute to see the Fossa captain make his first appearance of the season but it didn’t take him long to make his mark.

After soloing all of 80 metres, the elder Clifford dispatched a perfect finish beyond the reach of Rory Beggan to send Kerry nine points clear with 51 minutes on the clock.

In truth the game was drifting away from Monaghan before Clifford’s cameo but his sensational contribution made absolutely certain.

With two points on the board and David Clifford and Seánie O’Shea waiting in the wings ahead of Mayo away in two weeks’ time, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor will be a happy man leaving Killarney this evening.

GIFTED

Monaghan stayed in touch with Kerry for the first quarter, thanks in the main to a string of needless fouls that gifted the away team some easy scores.

Conor McCarthy broke the deadlock with one such free in the 6th minute and Tony Brosnan got Kerry off the mark two minutes later with a placed ball of his own.

The reliable Dessie Ward and Kerry’s bustling full forward Darragh Roche exchanged scores before Micheál Bannigan tapped over a free to re-establish the Farney’s early lead.

Kerry then went on a mini-run, instigated by a neat team move that saw Tony Brosnan and Micheál Burns combine to tee up the excellent Tom O’Sullivan for a close-in score.

Good work by Barry Dan O’Sullivan from a hop ball led to another Brosnan free, and then a high, skyscraper of a point from the stand side into the scoreboard end by Donal Down O’Sullivan gave the hosts a two-point lead.

However, two more avoidable fouls handed Monaghan’s free-takers McCarthy and Bannigan a point apiece and midway through the first half, the scores were level at 0-5 each.

The Kingdom finally began to inject some pace into proceedings in the second quarter with Dara Moynihan and Micheál Burns especially active. The All-Ireland champions scored five of the next six points with Roche, Brosnan (free), Moynihan, Donal Down O’Sullivan and Burns all hitting the target.

A tasty individual effort by Monaghan’s best forward, Conor McCarthy, left the scores at 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.

UNDONE

Monaghan’s good work in the first half was rather quickly undone in the second as Kerry exerted their dominance in all sectors. By the time Darragh Roche evaded Beggan and goaled in the 39th minute, the home side led by eight (1-12 to 0-7) and the result already appeared to be beyond question.

In fairness to Vinney Corey’s charges, they rattled off three unanswered points over the next 10 minutes – and they would have scored a goal but for a great save by Shane Murphy – but then Clifford’s introduction set the tone for the remainder.

Adrian Spillane’s goalbound effort was tipped over in the 49th minute (Spillane was the last of Kerry’s six forwards to score) and then Clifford gathered the ball inside his own 65, sprinted straight for goal, and finished emphatically to make it 2-13 to 0-10.

Things got worse for Monaghan four minutes later when Ryan O’Toole saw red for a high tackle on Stefan Okunbor. In the next attack, Tom O’Sullivan sauntered forward to drive a trademark outside-of-the-boot shot between the uprights and Kerry led by double scores (2-14 to 0-10).

Stephen O’Hanlon was one of Monaghan’s shining lights and he scored two of his three points in the final quarter, but they counted for little when all was said and done.

TG4’s Man of the Match Donal Down O’Sullivan capped a fine full debut with a nice goal in stoppage time as Kerry picked up their first league win of the season.

KERRY: S Murphy; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-2); P Warren, T Morley, P Murphy; J Barry, BD O’Sullivan; M Burns (0-1), D Moynihan (0-1), A Spillane (0-1); T Brosnan (0-4f), D Roche (1-2), D O’Sullivan (1-3).

Subs: P Clifford (1-1) for Moynihan; S Okunbor for BD O’Sullivan; K Spillane (0-1m) for Roche, G Horan for Warren; R Murphy for A Spillane.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; T McPhillips, K Duffy (0-1), R Wylie; C Boyle, D Ward (0-1), K Loughran; K  Lavelle, C Lennon; S O’Hanlon (0-3), M Bannigan (0-3, 2f), J Wilson; C McCarthy (0-5, 4f), K Gallagher (0-1), S Carey.

Subs: D Treanor for Lennon; G Mohan for Wilson; T McPhillips for Lavelle; S Jones for Carey; S Slevin for Wylie.

Attendance: 10,232

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St Paul’s ladies’ contribution to club honoured

By Sean Moriarty St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night. Since the start of the season, […]

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0249820_Ladies_Basketball_3.jpg

By Sean Moriarty

St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night.

Since the start of the season, coach James Fleming has named his Most Valuable Player (MVP) after each home game.

The club presented each MVP award winner with a special trophy at halftime during the club’s tie with Dublin side Swords Thunder at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Lynn Jones, who is one of the sport’s longest servants in Kerry, picked up her award from the Limerick Celtics game earlier in the season.

Rheanne O’Shea won the MPV during the Portlaoise Panthers match.

Yuleska Ramirez Tedja was the MPV against UL Sport Huskies last year.

Deise Dunlea was the most recent nomination for an MPV award and she also received her award on Saturday night.

The team also honoured their Irish International player Leah McMahon and presented Leah’s mother Anne with flowers as a thank-you for her support to the club.

“The dedication of these ladies is unbelievable, we have eight games in a row coming up, five at home and one each in Belfast, Cavan and Dublin and they are all working or studying,” manager Siobhan Bennett told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Coach James Fleming wanted to show his appreciation for this dedication.”

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