UCD Marian end 40-year wait for Super League title

Final goes right to the wire as UCD Marian score winner with seconds to spare

The UCD Marian team celebrate their Super League win. Photograph: Martin Doherty

The UCD Marian team celebrate their Super League win. Photograph: Martin Doherty

 

The long 40-year wait is finally over for UCD Marian as they were crowned Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League champions at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght this evening with a 72-71 point win over Pyrobel Killester in a thriller.

Indeed, back in 1978 when Paul Meany was lifting the winner’s trophy, he never dreamed that by the time the club would see league honours again, his youngest son Conor would be 31 and one of the main stars of the show.

“I don’t know what to say really,” said Conor afterwards. “That was a great game, either team could have won it. To win the league is amazing, it’s a family club and there’s been so much work behind the scenes. Dad won when he was 27-years-old and he wouldn’t have thought his youngest son would be 31 before they would do it again.”

It’s certainly been a long wait for Marian, but they won out in style this evening in the all-Dublin showdown as, having finished level with Killester at the top of the league with 17 wins and five losses each, there was no doubt that this play-off decider was going to be one of the games of the year and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with the drama all the way down to the final buzzer.

A huge three-pointer from Killester’s Ciaran Roe with 12.1 seconds to go saw the game tied on 71 points each, and it looked like a superb showcase of basketball was headed for overtime. With basketball though, there is always time for yet more twists and turns and they came with less than five seconds to go as UCD’s Mike Garrow drew the foul and, from the free throw line, scored the first and missed the second.

With the game on tenterhooks and the clock against them, Killester came up the court looking for the winner but time ran out, and Marian’s current players, coaches and 1978 team members were all there together to revel in the glorious moment.

A tearful head coach, Ioannis Liapakis added: “Hopefully we don’t have to wait another 40 years for the next one! It was a long way to get here. It took us five years together. Five long, hard years. They worked so hard. And finally we did it.

“In fairness, Killester played amazing, they also deserved to win, it was a flip of the coin in the end. But at last we had a little bit of luck and the only thing I feel right now is relief - relief for these 14 guys who stuck with me for five years, who worked hard, and finally we did it. We’re going to enjoy this moment.”

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