UL Eagles overcame Northern Conference winners DCU Saints 70-56 after a captivating Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague final at the National Basketball Arena.
Eagles have been sensational in 2012, surprising everyone by lifting the National Cup earlier on this year, before blitzing their way through the playoffs to this final.
This win marks the end of a tremendous debut season at UL for coach Mark Keenan, the former Killester coach, who has brought success to Eagles after years of frustration.
Speaking after the win, Keenan said: “It´s a fantastic way to finish the season. Since Christmas I think we have shown we are the best team in the country. We had a tough start to the season, but everyone bought into what we are doing and this is a great reward.”
Keenan had extra praise for ‘MVP’ Jason Killeen: “Jason has been brilliant all season. Tonight he got their big guys in foul trouble and he was just immense all night,” he added.
A high octane opening saw DCU press UL high up the court, and the strategy reaped its rewards in the early stages, There was nothing between the sides at the end of the first.12-12.
DCU were the superior side in the opening stages of the second quarter thanks to some excellent work from Martin Provisors and Mike Trimmer. Michael Chubb stretched the DCU lead out to five before UL responded through Eoin Quigley. Robert Taylor followed up quickly after to bring UL back to within two. Taylor’s influence was growing in the game, and soon he had UL level at 20-20.
UL increased their intensity on defense in the final quarter as DCU desperately tried to regain parity. The Dublin side were finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate the UL rear-guard and Eagles managed to hold their six point lead with five minutes to go and went on to secure this momentous title with a 70-56 victory.
The UL Women’s side were crowned double champions after a 66-54 victory over Team Montenotte Cork in the final of the Nivea Women´s SuperLeague.
James Weldon’s side secured the National Cup earlier this year, and secured this title after a hard fought 66-54 win over Team Montenotte Cork.
UL coach James Weldon’s praise for his charges was well justified. “To win 35 games in a row is unbelievable. I can’t say enough about the commitment and dedication of those girls. They had us well scouted. You have to give credit to Cormac (O’Donoghue) and his Montenotte team.We maybe could have been further ahead at half time but we have a great system and a great belief here.”
However the coach would not be drawn on the future after this record-breaking season. “We’ve just won the treble. We will go and enjoy this and then we can think about what we are going to do next,” he added.
A decisive opening from the Cork outfit saw them take an early 6-2 lead, thanks in large part to some sterling work from Valerie O’Driscoll. UL responded through Aoife McDermott, who netted to bring her side back to within two. UL’s success this campaign has been built on a foundation of controlled attacking play and James Weldon’s side were soon back on level terms midway through the first.
Cormac O’Donoghue´s side came back brilliantly at the beginning of the second quarter, relentlessly whittling the UL lead down to just three points. At half time it was 33-30 to UL.
UL began the third determined not to concede further ground to their determined opponents and were again more clinical in attack as Vanderwal and co slowly built up a ten point lead.
The theme of the game was borne out once again in the fourth with deservedly securing a memorable double, 66-54.