UCD Intervarsities captain Cathal Finn feels his team are shaping up nicely ahead of next weekend’s Basketball Intervarsities in UCC. Beaten finalists to UUJ last year, prostate UCD will hope to reclaim the trophy they won in 2011 when they hosted the tournament. The roster has changed sizeably since then, with only two of this year’s team having played UCD Marian Superleague Basketball experience, however Finn has faith in players coming in. “We have a lot of guys that have inter-varsities experience which is important but there are also a few new players that are strong. We should be competitive and hope to challenge for the title again.”

Losing to underdogs UUJ at the final hurdle last year is an experience Finn wants his team to have in the back of their minds heading into the weekend. “We feel we let one slip away to UUJ last year; especially since we had beaten them in the group stages. That loss does motivate us to try and win back the trophy that we won in 2011. A good portion of the team will not have won a varsity before and will be eager to get a gold medal when the tournament comes around.”

UCC beat UUJ in the Colleges League final before Christmas, a competition UCD didn’t enter into. Finn isn’t concerned however that competing colleges are at an advantage with the added game time, and believes coach Kevin Foley’s experience will be imperative to their success. “Our guys will have all played with one another or against each other at some point in the last few years so we should be able to gel quickly enough. Our coach Kev will be aware of what players have played together a lot and will make sure to keep those combinations on the floor together. In the past we haven’t had any trouble with unfamiliarity anyway.”

UUJ, having retained most of their team from last year, and added two new American recruits Matt Graves and Jim Mower, are considered contenders by the UCD guard again this year. However he also is wary of the threat NUIG possess. “They both have players who did well in the National League this season and I think UUJ will be hungry to retain the Cup.”

UCD will fancy their chances of advancing to the knock out stages top of their group having been paired in Pool 2 against IT Blanchardstown, UL and IT Carlow, while Pool 1 pairs UUJ, Cork IT, Dublin Business School and NUIG.

In the Women’s meanwhile, Basketball Ireland Competitions Officer Conor Lilly believes UCD would be considered outsiders to go the whole way this year, with UL and NUIG the teams to watch. UCD have been paired in Pool 2 with UL, NUIG and Waterford IT, while Pool 1 DCU, Trinity, UCC and Queens going head to head. The Intervarsities will be held on the 12th-14th April.

-Conall Devlin