ULSTER UNIVERSITY 82
Malahide’s season got off to a bad start as Sean Ingle’s side lost by 17 points to Ulster University in front of a sold-out gym on Saturday night.
Both these sides have recruited well during the off-season, but the visitors seemed much more prepared for the start of the campaign than Malahide.
A total of 26 turnovers was just one statistic which underlined why the home team failed to win, even though Trevor Recio continued where he left off last season and finished with 26 points. But with that comes a caveat of a 53% field goal conversion rate, hitting nine of 17 attempts and just one of four three-point shots.
Ulster kept Malahide at arm’s length throughout, and at the end of the first quarter they had a five-point lead - 22-17. Whenever Malahide started to close the gap their opponents would go on a run and stretch their lead back out to 10 or 12 points.
Malahide had a decent pre-season against some Super League sides, but they just couldn’t get their usual game plan running on Saturday.
At half-time they trailed by nine points, that was still the gap after the third quarter - 63-54 - and at that stage there was just an air of inevitability about the result.
In the last period the visitors pulled away and a couple of late three-pointers put a slight gloss on the scoreline from Ulster’s perspective.
It’s arguably going to be the toughest the division has been in a long time and while Malahide will be somewhat deflated the sense is that teams will take points off each other.
They are once again at home this coming Saturday when they welcome Team North West to the Community School (tip-off 7pm). Another sell out is expected, with the interest around the team at fever pitch this season.
Speaking after the opening defeat, head coach Ingle was disappointed with the performance but knows his side are capable of much more.
“It’s still early days. We have been gelling, but obviously we have a lot of work to do and with the players we lost we have to play a different style of basketball and that may have contributed to Saturday.”
Malahide: Trevor Recio, Cian Daly, Isaac Westbrooks, Matthew Harper, O. Rice, Sean Daly, Christian McDonnell, Sean Ingle, J Temple, Sean Fitzpatrick.