HEAD COACH Niall McDermott has put LYIT Donegal’s encouraging start to the new campaign down to their pre-season work.
LYIT Donegal have won seven from eight in Men’s Division One and face a big top-of-the-table joust away to leaders Ballincollig on Saturday afternoon.
Last season, LYIT Donegal won just four League games across the season.
“It’s refreshing coming out of games disappointed when you’ve won,” McDermott told Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub.
“Last year, we could have lost by 15 points and were saying that we played well enough.
“We’ve won seven from eight and this is by far our best start to a season.”
LYIT Donegal let a 43-21 lead slip and, for a brief spell in the third quarter, the Panthers were in front. Inspired by Manny Payton’s introduction early in the fourth, LYIT Donegal eked out the win.
Payton, one of the closed season recruits, was named Player of the Month before the game and he top scored again with 23 points.
McDermott said: “Manny has been phenomenal this year. He wasn’t at his usual high standards, but he said at the start of the fourth quarter: ‘Don’t worry, I know I haven’t been hitting well, but I’ve got you’.
“He delivered on his word in that fourth quarter. He came out gunning and made some brilliant plays at both ends. We’re blessed to have talent like that.
“We won the game because of the individual talent. We didn’t do a good job finding the right option in offence, but that’s part of the learning experience.”
McDermott noted an increased pre-season this time around with his squad playing as many as a dozen games before the start of the regular season.
“We were ready for the season and were able to hit the ground running,” the LYIT Donegal coach said. “We had enough to win. The experience from the first two months and the number of wins got us over the line. Sometimes it’s good not to be at your best and win.
“It was a good result, but we weren’t so happy with the performance.
“We were up by over 20 points in the first half. Some of the players thought the game was over and the intensity dropped, especially in the third quarter. Basketball is a game of momentum and once that goes against you, it’s hard to get back.”
On Saturday-week, LYIT Donegal will host Tolka Rovers in a Cup quarter-final – their first time on such a stage, but one they’re really relishing.
The return of Letterkenny native Andrew McGeever and other additions like Dom Uhl and Mario Garcia have helped kick LYIT Donegal on.
McDermott has warned that his men have to be at their best on Saturday as they head for Ballincollig.
He said: “This is a huge game against Ballincollig. A performance like that one won’t be enough to get anything there.
“They’re the best team in the League, but this gives us something to work on. We need to be on top of our game and hopefully that’s out of our system now.”Tags: