Enda Walshe reports
Having won two of their last three games and with two home games to come, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s have an opportunity to push themselves into the play-off conversation and the visit of SETU Carlow to the Killarney Sports and Leisure and the sequel to the Killarney derby are top of the agenda for coach Jarlath Lee’s side.
These games will be pivotal to the end of season prospects as February sees them take to the highways and byways of Ireland with away games in Limerick, Dublin and Drogheda and those trips are part of the Cross Conference schedule which makes those home games even more crucial.
The Lakers will be in good order following last weekend’s derby delight but there’s nothing like facing a Martin Conroy coached outfit to bring you back down to earth.
The legendary Conroy has been integral to the growth of basketball in the Dolmen County and his sides are always both skillful and obdurate in equal measure. They sit just outside the play-off spots in the Southern Conference and would be a big obstacle for the Lakers to clear.
With an attachment to the South East Technological University they will have a tap on the best possible talent and good recruitment of imports is always a strength.
In Conor Harkins they possess the best three-point shooter in the league whose nearest challenger incidentally is the Lakers’ Jack Ferguson. Youngster Jack Kehoe is also prolific from beyond the arc while Kevin Donohue can also torment. Ben Kelly Flynn, Eoin Hackett and the Vaikuls duo Armnads and Rolands are also very effective.
In an earlier meeting, last November, the Lakers had a half-time lead but a depleted squad couldn’t sustain the intensity and Carlow eventually ran out 102-88 winners.
The Lakers will have a stronger hand for this clash and the use of the bench will be a key factor. The minutes and experience gained by the likes of Jack O’Sullivan, Eoin Carroll, Oisin Spring and more recently Mark Sheehan gives the squad a lot more depth.
Jamie O’Sullivan and Senan O’Leary are showing the benefit of previous year’s involvement and these players will form the nucleus of any future national league squad.
Ronan Collins will be glad to have some minutes in that Cougars win following an absence while Paul Clarke basketball nous is always important.
With the abrasive style Carlow brings to the table, under the basket is going to be a battlefield. Rui Saravia seemed to relish that last weekend while the presence of the towering Aron Walker at both ends will be integral to any Lakers’ success.
Jack Ferguson, given his scoring contributions of late, is sure to be the focus of Carlow’s defence and rightly so as his performances have been top notch. Having another week to get over his illness should see him in even better form, if that’s possible after last week’s fireworks.
So it’s a big night for the Lakers and their play-off prospects. Tip-off time in the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre is 7.30pm.
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