We are all loving the SCT’s historical run to glory, but some of us still save a special place in our hearts for the unmatchable heat and hoopla that accompanies the hardcourt drama of a big basketball game. On Friday, at the Shoreline Arena in Greystones, Coach Eoin ‘Doctor’ Noctor and his U16s added another chapter to that short but storied tradition that is St. Conleth’s Basketball. One difference between rugby and basketball is their spiritual homes: the former is still imbued with the fierce but fine manners of the British boarding schools while the latter proudly parrots its swag and jargon from the American ghetto. Both have their charms, but isn’t it particularly heartwarming to see Holy Child’s Filipinos and Sallynoggin locals and Conleth’s Ballsbridge and Foxrock boys united by Compton’s gangsta’ style? There certainly was more goodwill between the teams compared to some of the outright battles of the past and the game itself was unbelievably intense but impeccably fair.
Holy Child’s No. 31, a veritable brick-house of a combo guard, was inspirational as he led the Noggin boys out to an early lead. He was an unstoppable force of nature and he dribbled and drove with a grace that belied his considerable girth, an emphatic statement that athleticism comes in all shapes and sizes. Coach Doctor and the boys did not panic, even when the lead reached 12. Conor Power and Brian Keenan were towers of strength ripping down boards on both ends of the court and Eoghan Fitzmaurice, Mark Beatty, Ronan Connor and Gavin Roche-Griffin and were driving and dishing with aplomb, but the shots were just not falling. Time to call in the cavalry in the person of Marlon Marishta, who is (and looks like) your standard world-class athlete. The usually mild-mannered Marlon was inspired by the noise from cheerleader Richard Hogan and the raucous crowd to make his mark and boy did he- repeatedly dribbling the length of the court and either swooping to the hoop or gracefully arcing an outside shot. The tide turned with a particularly dramatic bank-shot trey by Air Marlon but the Sallynoggin and Manilla breeds are tough and warhorse No. 31 led a countercharge which threatened the now-Conlethian lead. Enter Tim Leary, who somehow picked up some hoops gravitas while away in France to go with his always-evident energy and enthusiasm. He was all over the court, making steals and running the lanes and scoring the two important baskets which iced the game and returned St. Conleth’s Basketball to its accustomed court of glory.