Lions and Eanna clash in National League opener

DUBLIN Lions will welcome near neighbours Eanna to Coláiste Bríde on Saturday for a match that will bring the curtain up on both side’s Men’s National League campaign.

While Eanna will be moving down from the heights of the Super League, Lions will be hoping to build on their superb second half to last season that saw them make it all the way to the National League Cup Final.

Eanna Mens National League Team

Both coaches are expecting an exciting opener, with newly-appointed Eanna boss Darren McGovern saying: “I think it’s going to be end-to-end, because both teams like to play the ball quickly. It should be an exciting game.”

Taking charge of the Rathfarnham side this summer, McGovern has seen just two players - Neil Lynch and Conor Gallagher - remain on as co-captains from last season’s Super League side.

He has brought in two new imports in American point guard Josh Wilson and Serbian forward Stefan Zecevic who played with Keiser University in the US.

Also signed up for the coming season is former St Vincent’s forward Dan Heaney and guards Hillary Netts and Garrett Blount.

High expectations

Pleased at how this new-look Eanna outfit has developed over the course of the summer, McGovern said, “We just had two players from the Super League team last season, so this is really a brand new project.

“These players have got high expectations and they’re competing at a high level.

“Pre-season has gone really well. I thought it would have taken the team longer to gel, but they’ve taken off really quickly,” he said.

Dublin Lions Head Coach Rob White insists Eanna will be a difficult hurdle for them saying “Eanna will be very strong.

“They’re coming down from the Super League. The speed of Super League is so different from the National League.

"They have the physicality, the size, they have everything that we’ll struggle with so it’ll be a real test.

“We like to run as much as we can against them and they’ll really look to go inside against us and make it hard so it’ll be tough,” he stressed.

The Clondalkin side will be coming into this season bolstered by the services of American Latrell Wilson and White, while delighted at seeing his side make the National League Cup decider last season, will be hoping for a better start to this one.

“Last year was a tough year for us is every aspect,” he recalled.

“We changed coaches halfway through the season. We had a very good American who got injured just before Christmas.

"He had 30 points in 18 minutes and did his ACL so we finished the rest of the season without an American.

“It was good because we had to learn responsibility from our own guys and we grew a lot.

“It was the first time in a final for a lot of the guys, and I would say we kind of froze, I don’t think we showed our true colours in the final.

"But it’s stood to us a lot and guys are hitting the ground running now.

“We’re hoping this year, with Latrell coming back and a couple of additions, we could be very strong now,” he added.

Family

Looking forward to lining out with the Lions this season, Wilson told The Echo “It’s a great club to be a part of. It’s really a family

“I think I can bring a lot of experience and leadership. I’m very confident in myself.

“We have a lot of talent this year and I think we’re in a good position to com-pete and maybe even win the league.

“I think that that championship run [last season] is going to help them throughout the regular season,” he said.

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