Marian lose out in close encounter

 
 

UCD Marian 102 Shamrock Rovers Hoops 111 A late effort from Michael Higgins forced overtime in a tight Superleague encounter as Marian took on southside rivals Shamrock Rovers Hoops, watched by Patrick Guiney

UCD Marian came very close to grasping victory away from Shamrock Rovers Hoops in their Superleague clash last Thursday evening, but the game – which went into overtime – symbolised a contest that was so close but yet so far.

UCD played admirably, with scintillating runs from Michael Higgins and Luke McCrone, as they looked by far the form team, but an unfortunate lack of discipline and a breakdown in communication led to Shamrock Rovers Hoops having the final say in a gripping encounter between these two southside rivals.

The first quarter had an air of tenacity for Frank Ryan’s students, as in quick succession they took the lead on three different occasions with captain Niall Meany and Luke McCrone both scoring impressive baskets. However, Hoops were an impressive outlet with a strong physical core, particularly in the daunting Carlton Aaron who accumulated an impressive 36 points throughout the game.

The second quarter brought a similar pattern for UCD, with the vocal encouragement from the home crowd and the strong leadership from Niall Meany leading their fightback in the local derby. Notable performances in this quarter came from Conor James and Ian McCormick. Frustratingly however, UCD lacked the requisite clinical finish and were unfortunately lacklustre and wasteful when it mattered most.

It was evident from the third quarter that both sides were suffering from fatigue in this nailbiting encounter. Conor Meany and Neil Baynes had outstanding performances, scoring 26 and 16 points respectively, but their individual performances were no match for an on-form Hoops who were playing in perfect sync – at one stage, it seemed that every shot was a basket. UCD didn’t back down under this concerted pressure from their opposition, though, and still managed to finish the quarter just eight points behind their rivals.

The game’s climax was a dramatic affair, with both teams battling hard until the final whistle. A moment of skill and luck for UCD brought them right back into the game as an impressive shot from Michael Higgins sailed through the net, leaving the score at 92-92 as the referee signalled full-time and brought the game to a fifth period.

As the five minutes’ added time elapsed, it became clear that both teams were suffering from the consistently high intensity of the match. Unfortunately for the home side it was Hoops, with some clever play and determination, who managed to edge themselves into the lead. As the referee blew her whistle for the last time, a collective mood of grief and frustration at missed chances could be felt from both the home players and supporters as the match ended 102-111.

UCD: Cathal Finn, Conor Meany, Jody O’Neill, Tomas Varga, Conor James, Paddy Young, Niall Meany, Michael Higgins, Neil Baynes, Luke McCrone, Ian McCormick.

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