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Scotts Lakers coach hails main sponsors for support

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As the 2021/22 National League season finally gets up and running, Adam Moynihan speaks to Lakers head coach Jarlath Lee about the new season, his new signings, and the team’s mains sponsors: Scotts Hotel, Killarney Credit Union and the Killarney Advertiser.

AM: Jarlath, you must be delighted to get going.

JL: It was about time! No, there’s a good vibe around the team at the moment. We’re all happy and excited to be playing. Unfortunately the juveniles aren’t back yet, but the seniors are quite happy.

How is your rotation coming together?

It’s getting there. Football is an issue. Mark O’Shea (Dr Crokes) has been back with us the last week and a half or so. He trains with us but he hasn’t been able to play matches. The Gneeveguilla boys are only back this week because they were concentrating on the football. It has been hard to get a proper rotation set just yet.

You’re two games into the season now. Have you learned much about your team and the competition in the opening few weeks?

It’s all about learning. We’re always learning and we’re slowly getting our unity together. I would have like that to have happened a bit quicker but I do reckon we will be challenging. We will be in the top four regardless. Ben is the best point guard in the league without a shadow of a doubt, and Emilian is one of the best scorers in the league without a shadow of a doubt. The young guys just need to build their confidence up and when that happens, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be exciting. For the people that will be coming to the home games, I just want to encourage them to be loud. We need an atmosphere there. Encourage the young guys on the court.

Are those young players enjoying being involved with a National League team?

They’re loving it. They’re all getting a couple of minutes. Senan O’Leary and Jamie O’Sullivan are starting at the moment, so they’re getting their chance. Senan’s confidence is getting better bit by bit. He’s averaging eight points a game. Jamie has been consistent all the way through. And we’ve got even younger players than those two. Jack O’Sullivan is an awesome player. He’s only 16 but he’s way above the rim already. And Luke Crowley as well. You’ll see them all over the course of the season.

The Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre is tied up until the end of the month so Sunday's game against Portlaoise will be played in Castleisland. Is that going to affect the team?

The young players would have played there before but the new guys, Ben Miller, Emilian Grudov and Rui Saravia, haven’t. Will it affect them? No, it shouldn’t. They’re professionals to a certain extent. We’re looking forward to it because we threw away the Limerick game. It was just bad decisions at the end of the game that cost us. We had it won at half-time. And last week (against Fr Mathews), we just didn’t perform on the offensive end. You don’t go from scoring over 100 points the week before to just over 50-something the following week… We’re well able to score. We’ll be fine.

How are those foreign imports settling in?

They’re loving Killarney anyway. They really like it. Ben came back, he wanted to commit to a full year which was great. He knew the team already from last year. Emilian is very young but he’s a phenomenal scorer. In pre-season he scored 26 against Neptune and 31 or 32 against Killorglin, two Super League teams. The new guy, Rui, is a 10 (points) and 10 (rebounds) guy. He’s more of a defensive player. And Dainius Varanauskas, the old dog, is back with the team.

How’s Dainius getting on?

He’s getting there. He’s putting in the work, training twice a day. He just wants to help out. He’s not bothered about minutes, he’s not complaining. He’s just there, talking to the young guys, which is brilliant. It’s great to have him back.

And your own son, Jordan, is involved in a coaching capacity. What is he bringing to the table?

Jordan’s first love is basketball and he loves being around the game. His main thing is strength and conditioning so he has done individual workout programmes for the players. He also brings the team down to the lake for recovery sessions and does yoga sessions. He brings a different sort of approach.

Away from the court, your main sponsors (Scotts, Killarney Credit Union and the Killarney Advertiser) are back on board again this season. How important is it to have their support?

Without the sponsors, it doesn’t happen. It’s great that Scotts and Maurice O’Donoghue are with us as sponsors and hopefully they’ll continue to support us going forward. Even going back to Maurice O’Donoghue Sr and the Gleneagle Hotel, the O’Donoghues have given the club great support. Margaret loves basketball, she’ll be at all the games. The whole family loves basketball. Their kids and their nieces and nephews are all involved. And we have other new sponsors involved too. O’Sullivan Bike Hire have provided bikes to the players to get around town. It’s fantastic to have them all on board.

Lakers fans can now buy their season tickets with a ‘single’ costing €50. A ‘patron’ option (two adults) is available for €100, which include a mention in the gameday programmes. The ‘family’ season ticket (two adults and two under 16s) is €120. This entitles fans to entry to every home league and cup game. Visit the St Paul’s Killarney Facebook page for details on how you can get your hands on these tickets through Eventbrite. Alternatively, you can contact any club officer.

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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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