DCU Basketball’s mixed 3v3 tournament brought a little March Madness to the Glasnevin campus, and a welcome trip for residents of the Mosney Accommodation Centre.
Last year’s tournament was a success all around, attracting students of all experience levels to let off a little steam and play some basketball, but this year the competition took on a different significance.
As part of the MELLIE project, asylum seekers from Mosney Direct Provision Centre in Meath were invited up to take part, and some played their way into the late stages of the competition.
But the main goal of the evening was to have fun. Conor Gilligan, DCU Men’s Basketball team member and the chief organiser on the night, was proud of the evening.
“It was unreal,” Gilligan told The College View.
“I didn’t think there’d be that many, so it was really good.
“The Mosney lads coming from the other side of the world, I was talking to one of them and he said every day they do nothing in Mosney, they’re not in school and they’re not working, so events like this is way better than doing nothing all day.
“Some of them didn’t play but they were here and had a good time, had some pizza, had some fun, so I’m happy for them.”
Makwan Ali, from the accommodation centre, played in the tournament, and was thankful for the chance to participate and socialise away from what is the norm.
“It was a good day,” Ali said.
“We have the MELLIE project in 2018, and when Conor told us about the basketball we were so happy about it.
“We came and we had the chance to play, it was so good, and we enjoyed it. We came here to help us learn English and to learn about different cultures, Irish culture, Irish studying, and we have good friends and good staff here in DCU.”
The standard of basketball was of little importance on a night like this, but it was refreshing to see many competitive games across the 20-team first round, with rookies and seasoned veterans alike blending seamlessly and producing some entertaining, high-scoring displays.
In the semi-finals, Hesco’s Finest overcame Murse Mines in a close-run affair, while Ruthie’s Angels put away the Looney Tunes.
The Angels would come out on top in the final, thanks to an MVP-worthy display from Andrew McGeever, but with the opposition side made up primarily of GAA players – who rarely play basketball – the evening can be considered a real success.
“Winning it, it’s just a bit of fun, especially in the final when everyone is watching,” McGeever said, speaking after the final.
“But the most important reason why we do this is to get people to play basketball.
“Obviously [DCU Soccer] do the astro leagues throughout the year, but I think it’s good to have one big blowout. We’re getting near the end of semester now, people need releases with exam stresses going all over the place, just to come off and spend the evening off together with your mates and having the craic, it’s good to blow off some steam.
“We’re really a minority sport in DCU, we don’t get a lot of funding and that kind of stuff compared to, say, GAA and athletics, so we’re trying to recruit as many to basketball as we can, get its popularity up and then hopefully get it some notice.”
Gilligan said the tournament is a fantastic advertisement for both the club and for the sport, especially when seeing so much variety in the latter stages.
“It was really good, you saw there, lads that play GAA got to the final, and they’re all wearing their GAA jerseys and the other team are all playing at the highest level of basketball in Ireland, and they ran them in close enough in the final.
“Even in the semi-finals it was the same, there were players that haven’t played basketball before, so that’s really good to see.
“Some people here probably haven’t played basketball since school, but now they might say ‘next year I might try out for the team, that was pretty good’. Just giving people a taste for a day can give them the lust to go on.”
The club have their own intervarsity championships coming up on April 4th in UL, capping off a very successful year that brought domination in the league for the ladies side and national success for the men’s Freshers.
“We’re feeling good,” Gilligan said.
“We’re reigning champs, the men’s team in the B division and the women’s team in the A division, the girls should probably win, they only won the All-Ireland recently so we’ll definitely be down supporting them.
“And for the lads we won the B last year, but in the A league we got relegated so were back to B for the varsities.
“We’re gonna go for it again, it’s my last year in college so I’m going all out for it.”
McGeever said the side “feel confident”, saying, “It’s a big event for us, it’s our biggest event of the year, so we have to perform in it.
“We have to do well to come back and show what we’re worth to the college.”
They proved that and a whole lot more with the success of one Tuesday evening, embracing diversity and flinging open the doors to create DCU’s most enthralling and diverse sporting spectacle of the year.
Image Credit: Mark Carroll