Kestrels kicked off their début season in Men’s Division 1 in emphatic style with a facile victory over Athy on the Kildare teams home court.
Founded in 2007 in Portarlington with a focus on juvenile boys and girls, the club has made spectacular progress and the first batch of graduates from their underage academy are set to challenge for honours against the very best the Midlands senior ranks have to offer this year.
They have joined forces with a few key veterans like the Dunne brothers and Dan Debosz from Portlaoise who possess a huge amount of winning experience at this level.
Former international underage star, Conor Vandendries, got Kestrels off to a flying start with a lay up right from the opening tip. Liam Guinan added to the scoreline immediately after. Athy responded with a three pointer of their own before the introduction of Dan Debosz allowed Kestrels to pull away to lead 17-10 at the end of the opening quarter.
Debosz continued where he left off in the second period with some fine individual scores. Kestrels upped the pressure on defence and they converted the forced turnovers in style.
Anthony Dunne heaped more pressure on a now beleaguered Athy team with a couple of tidy lay-ups and some selfless play in the high post. This allowed Debosz and Cian Corcoran to slip in for some easy scores and put some daylight between the teams at half time with Kestrels leading 38-10.
Vandendries and Guinan continued to control the tempo with great ball movement on offense with Juan Marchal and Debosz the main beneficiaries. Latvian playmaker Niko Dudko scored six points in a minute to end the game as a contest. Liam Guinan added seven consecutive points of his own including a big three pointer to inflict further damage just before the whistle to signal the end of the third period.
The fourth quarter saw Ciaran Guinan get in on the scoring act after being sprung from the bench scoring all 9 of his points in this quarter. Debosz added another 12 points to his tally along with his standard 20 plus rebounds.
Kestrels finished strong to emerge 91-33 victors. Greg Dunne marked yet another record appearance with a smashing reverse lay up. Now 45 years young, Greg is by some distance the player who has played the most games, scored the most points and won the most titles in the history of this league and there is no doubt he is hungry to add to those records in 2014/15.
With the help of these young Kestrels and a conveyor belt of talent under the tutelage of Louise Foster, there is no doubt this team will become eminently stronger over the course of this season and the next few years.