The deck was stacked against the Staff basketball team from the start. The Sixth Years (the Man City of schools basketball) had a veritable All-Star team ready to roll, having recently bought up most of the available free agents at the trading deadline, including the expensive foreign imports, Marlon ‘Air’ Marishta and Michael ‘Lethal’ Lee. What could the Staff team do but resort to the time-honoured Irish method of trying to nip a victory with heart and grit (and a bit of hold and trip) or, at least, making the loss as difficult and as bloody as possible! There was also some native talent on the student team: Conor ‘Tower’ Power performed his usual, thankless task of impersonating a Wisconsin farmboy and methodically pulling down rebound after rebound; Oisín ‘Puck’ Gilligan floated around the 3-point arc all day like his Shakespearean hero, flitting from side to side and occasionally inflicting dagger treys; Alex Murphy, despite feeling a bit queasy as it was all a bit cosier and sweatier than a lawn tennis match at the Fitz, still managed to make some spirited drives; Luke ‘McHey’ McKay’s quickness, dexterity and cockiness transferred well from rugby as did Gavin Nugent’s heart and hustle; and Captain Harry launched shots from every possible position and angle, even making a couple. Coupled with Marlon’s F-15 assaults on the rim and Michael’s lethal defence, it is no wonder the Staff team felt the pressure!
Coach Sean Ingle’s dramatic, just-in-time, tip-off arrival harkened back to 1970 when Willis Reed stumbled out of the locker-room at half-time and spurred the Knicks to championship glory. And the support of the many watching student fans 9both Junior and Senior), decidedly Staff supporters, gave us extra impetus. Our own ‘High-Tower’, Mr. Magee, battled nobly with the student giants; relative youngsters Gahan and Robinson ran and jumped with abandon; and Mr. Lonergan brought his usual Wolverine effort to loose ball pursuit and Mr. Sheridan showed a bit of French flair with his passing, all complementing true pro Ingle’s masterclass in floor generalship, but in the end, alas, it was not to be, as the study march of time and Mr. Keenan’s quick whistle eventually did us in. It is a good thing we not have long to wait for revenge: the Staff are looking to extend their ten-year unbeaten streak vs. Sixth years on Tuesday in the annual soccer match in Irishtown!