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McGarrity the real star

McGarrity the real star up north

Northern Conference

Belfast Star 84
Merry Monk 88

MERRY MONK, BALLINA quickly put the bitter disappointment of last week’s cup defeat behind them with a hugely impressive away win against an in-form Belfast Star last weekend.
This was a tightly-fought game in which the lead changed hands four times. In the end Ronan McGarrity continued his outstanding form of late with a game high 26 points to lead Ballina to a vital away win.
“Star is always a very difficult place to come,” reflected Monks coach Terry Kennedy. “They are flying at the moment winning their last five on the bounce since changing Americans. Hoops lost tonight so that’s two more points gained on them. Make no mistake, this Belfast outfit will take points off a lot of sides before this season is done.”
Despite the addition of Scottie Summersgill to the side that beat UCD the previous Thursday night, Star were slow to start and Ballina were quick to take advantage. They raced into an 18-6 lead after just six minutes through scores from Robert Taylor, Chris Smith, McGarrity and a Jay Marriott three-pointer. On the defensive end Smith and Marriott were winning all the boards while McGarrity enjoyed two blocks on Fergal Toner. Star did rally through scores from the dominant centre Jermaine Washington and the electric Summersgill to close the gap, but a trademark jump-shot from big Paul Freeman left the Monks leading by 26-15 at the end of the quarter. Terry Kennedy and his flamboyant assistant Anthony Flores would have been quick to remind their men that this side has lost games after similarly impressive openings.
The second quarter was a close affair as the game settled into a rhythm. Robert Taylor opened the scoring with a powerful penetration while Marriott hit another big three after a superb drive and assist from Scottie Kinnevane. At this point the two Scotties (Summersgill and Kinnevane) were having a tremendous battle, with the Ballina youngster more than holding his own against his much more experienced northern counterpart.
McGarrity was now exerting his influence on the game, and a powerful score and bonus free throw helped the dual star to nine points for the quarter. On the flip side, Star’s Jermaine Washington scored 10 points for the period to keep the Belfast outfit in touch. Merry Monk went in at half-time leading by 46-37.
The second half began brightly for Belfast, who were to dominate the third quarter. Summersgill and Washington continued to have big games while complimented by the sharp-shooting Fergal Toner. The ever maturing Brian O’Malley tried to stop the rot for the Monks with a big three but the Ballina men were simply competing under the boards as Star grabbed a large amount of offensive rebounds and converted a lot of second chance scores. Star won the quarter by 10 points to leave them leading going into the final 11-minute period.
Ballina knew they were in a battle now. Paul Freeman and Robert Taylor could be seen visibly encouraging each other during  the interval and the Monks started the final quarter with all guns blazing. The pair linked extremely well, three Taylor assists allowing the Ballagh’ man to help himself to six points. While Summersgill replied for Star, Ballina were unrelenting. Brian O’Malley hit yet another three-pointer from the wing, and Ballina’s better distribution of scores seemed to be the difference. Summersgill and Washington were Star’s only route to scores, while five Monks scored in the final 11 minutes. In the end Ballina only won by four but some late ‘Hail Mary’ three-pointers helped make the game appear closer than it really was.
Terry Kennedy was also delighted to get a win to take some of the sting from last week’s defeat to Tralee in the Sports Centre. “Last week was a tough pill to swallow. We gave it our best shot but it wasn’t to be. We were particularly disappointed for the fantastic supporters we have. They made the venue electric last week. What’s done is done, though, and we have to move on.
“If we can win the Superleague this year it will be the most successful year the club has had in over 10 years. That’s what we need to focus on now and tonight was a sign that that’s what we’re doing. I was very proud of the fighting display out of all these guys. It’s not easy come all the way up here on a night when everybody is enjoying Christmas parties at home. Paul Freeman and Brian O’Malley have had to wait back to do a random drugs test. These fellas won’t be home until 2 or 3 in the morning. If we keep showing this sort of commitment we are well capable of winning this Superleague.”

Ballina play UCD at home on Saturday, December 30 at 8pm in the Sports Centre.

R McGarrity  26, R Taylor 17, C Smith 17, P Freeman 8, J Marriott 8, B O’Malley 6.

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