Saturday 25 November 2017

Title push falls just short

Paul Byrne

Having easily seen off third-placed UCD Marian on Saturday afternoon, all Swords Thunder could do was wait and hope that Tralee Warriors could beat Templeogue later on that evening to keep their Super League aspirations alive.

Swords Thunder 94 UCD Marian 66

Alas it wasn't to be as Templeogue edged out the Kerry side in a thriller (96-93) to confirm themselves as champions for the 2016/17 season.

Swords Thunder's fate was taken out of their hands following a narrow defeat to Tralee the previous weekend and they started this game like men possessed as they attempted to secure second place at least and a spot in the prestigious Champions Trophy in two weeks' time.

Dave Baker's men dominated from the start, with key player Jose Maria Gil Narbon starting his first game since the National Cup success back in January.

Justin Goldsborough, in particular, was proving a real handful for UCD as Swords stormed into a 32-12 first-quarter lead.

UCD's main man Mike Garrow, a former Swords player, has been in fine form this year and has been a major part of UCD's fine season to date, but he was kept very quiet by a strong Thunder defence as he struggled to get into the game.

By half-time Swords had extended their lead to 57-29 and even at the half-way stage it was hard to see how UCD could get back into the game against a rampant Thunder side.

The second half continued in much the same fashion as the first, with UCD failing to make any sort of dent into Thunder's substantial lead.

Goldsborough continued to shine and his excellent three-pointer late on capped a fine performance from the big American.

Overall, it was a very good performance from Thunder who guaranteed themselves a second-place finish.

After the game coach Baker was understandably disappointed that his side's Super League challenge had ended but indicated that his team must now ready themselves for the upcoming Champions Trophy tournament which takes place in Letterkenny in two weeks' time.

"Obviously we're disappointed that we couldn't quite get it done in the Super League, but we send our congratulations to Templeogue who we host next weekend in our final game of the season.

'I know you can say we lost it last week in Tralee, but for me it was the loss to Demons earlier on in the season which was the most crucial defeat to us.

'You can forgive losing to one of the top three or four sides, but if you want to win this league you have to be beating all the other sides.

'The Champions Trophy is a lucrative competition and it's one we're really focusing on and we will be going all out to try and secure our second piece of silverware this season,' stated Thunder's coach.

When asked if it would be hard to get his charges motivated for next week's clash with newly crowned Super League champions Templeogue, Baker was quick to dispel that notion, insisting that this was still a very important game.

Meanwhile, the ever-popular Swords star Isaac Westbrooks has been named in the initial 20-strong Irish senior men's panel. Squad training will begin next month at the start of preparations for the 2018 Small Nations Tournament.

Fingal Independent

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