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Three on the bounce for resurgent Lakers

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National League: Division 1

Scotts Lakers 80 Fr Mathews 72

Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre

The Lakers’ mid-season revival continue apace. Last Saturday night, before a healthy home crowd, the Killarney side brushed off the cobwebs to overcome a strong Fr Mathews challenge and pick up their third victory on the bounce. The result leaves them just two wins off the playoff spots with seven games still to play.

Due to COVID-related postponements, the Lakers had to wait four weeks for their first game of 2022 and star player Godwin Boahen admitted that the layoff had an effect. “We were a little rusty,” the Canadian told club PRO Enda Walshe. “I missed a few lay-ups that I'd usually get, but I'm really happy with the boys. Once we got playing, we really clicked.”

The 5’11” guard was the Lakers’ top scorer on the night with 32 and he revealed that picking up his first home win in St Paul’s colours was a major motivation. “I lost my first home game in a Lakers vest against the Limerick Eagles, even though that was a game we could have won. I just want to keep playing and keep winning.”

SLOW START

Boahen and his teammates started slowly and allowed Mathews to race into a 7-0 lead. This forced Lakers coach Jarlath Lee to call a timeout and make some adjustments, and his alterations appeared to do the trick. Mark O’Shea and David Gleeson found their range, and Boahen and the returning Marco Benčić hit big threes to give the hosts a 24-22 first-quarter lead.

Emilian Grudov and Boahen kept tagging on points in the second but Mathews, led by the impressive Jonathan Garcia, were putting up a strong fight. By the time the half-time buzzer sounded, the Lakers had increased their lead to seven (42-35).

Baskets by Rui Saravia, Boahen, Gleeson and Grudov stretched that advantage out to 17 in the third. Garcia responded in kind, however, and with Deividas Brazas offering good support off the bench, Mathews went on a 15-3 scoring run. The game was in the melting pot going into the final quarter with Lakers leading by just five (64-59).

The Lakers re-established their dominance in the fourth by opening up a 13-point lead, but some lax free-throw shooting left the door open. With Diego O’Herlihy to the fore, the Cork men managed to cut the gap to four.

It was to be the Lakers’ day, though, and buoyed by their enthusiastic home fans, they steadied the ship to eventually win by eight.

Speaking after the game, Jarlath Lee said he was delighted with the contribution made by the home supporters. "First of all, I want to thank all the fans that were there. Next week we want ye back and even louder.”

Like Boahen, Lee also felt the team were a little rough around the edges early on - and he didn't exclude himself from that assessment. "We were very rusty. In the dressing room at half-time, the team themselves were disappointed about the way they were playing, even though we were up by double figures.

“But we never felt at ease against this [Fr Mathews] team and they proved it by coming back at us twice. My own coaching was poor; I didn't get the rotations right. The big positive is we've won three in a row now. We have a great atmosphere around the squad and that’s a big factor in why we are winning."

The Lakers are at home again this Saturday as they welcome the WIT Vikings to the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre. Tip-off is at 7.30pm.

LAKERS: Godwin Boahen (32), Emilian Grudov (24), Rui Saravia (11), David Gleeson (4), Mark O'Shea (4), Marko Benčić (3), Jamie O’Sullivan (2), Daniel Carroll, Paul Clarke, Lorcan Keane.

FR MATHEWS: Jonathan Garcia (29), Diego O’Herlihy (15), Darko Bucan (11), David Murray (8), Deividas Brazas (6), Brian O’Neill (3).

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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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