Basketball Ireland weekly preview

    The path to the Play-Off’s should be a little clearer after the latest round of games in the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague with uncertainty still surrounding what positions UL Eagles, UCC Demons and Bord Gais Neptune will occupy at the end of the Regular Season.

    Belfast Star have made a late surge to reach the Play-Off’s in the Northern Conference, while DCU Saints look almost certain to claim second spot in the Northern Conference and ensure home advantage in the quarter finals.

    In the IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague, UL can wrap up the Regular Season with a win at home to 11890 Killester, while DCU Mercy and Meteors host Black Forge Oblate Dynamos and Waterford Wildcats respectively.

    UL Eagles will be desperate for a return to winning ways at home to Ulster Elks after suffering defeats to UCC Demons and 11890 Killester in their two previous encounters.

    The Eagles were favourites to wrap up the Regular Season trophy at home to Demons but a surprise loss to Paul Kelleher’s side followed by another loss to 11890 Killester means the wait to confirm home advantage in the semi finals continues.

    UL’s hopes weren’t helped by the absence of Cameron Mitchell for their clash with 11890 Killester but the 6’7’ American forward returns this weekend.
    “We had a disappointing week but it’s tough to keep winning all the time during the season,” said Eagles’ Welsh international Matt Hall. “The defeats have hopefully refocused us for a tough run in to the end of the season and the playoffs.
    “The Elks have showed they can compete with every team in the league at their best but have struggled to keep it up for 40 minutes.”

    Elks are on the back of three league losses but are likely to be at full strength for the trip to Limerick.
    “We must bring intensity this Saturday in Limerick otherwise it will prove a wasted journey,” said Elks’ assistant coach Patrick O’Neill. “UL have multiple scoring threats and with Scott Kinevane in such great form they will be very tough.”

    Bord Gais Neptune’s season is firmly back on track after recent wins over UCC Demons and UCD Marian and face a Moycullen side this weekend, who will be without the services of Cian Nihill.

    “Enda Byrt has made that group a competitive side despite their record, and we will not be taking them for granted whatsoever,” said Neptune Head Coach Pat Price. “We are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and that is crucial as we approach March.”

    Moycullen were just 0.8 seconds away from securing their second league win of the season but a last gasp comeback from Belfast Star, who eventually claimed the points in overtime denied them victory.

    11890 Killester outlined their determination to make up for their National Cup final heartache by hammering Southern Conference leaders UL Eagles in their last outing. The win confirmed another Regular Season trophy but that is unlikely to see the Dubliners ease up against Play Off chasers UCC Demons on Saturday or Belfast Star a day later.

    “UCC Demons have several guys that can score as we have seen in recent games,” said 11890 Killester Head Coach Mark Keenan. “We must contain the experienced Shane Coughlan and the young free scoring Ciaran O’Sullivan.

    “Belfast Star are chasing a play-off spot in our own Northern Conference, so they will be determined to win their remaining games,” added Keenan. “Clayton Longmire is their leading scorer and we must keep the ball out of his hands as much as we can. We will be determined to overturn our last result to Star on Sunday and continue to grow our own confidence and momentum.”

    UCC Demons Head Coach Paul Kelleher believes this weekend’s trip to Dublin will tell a lot in terms of what his side is capable of this season.
    “While we have had a couple of good results on the road lately, we still have had some lapses and if we are going to have any chance, we are going to have to be perfect which is always tough to do regardless who you are playing,” said Kelleher. “John Behan is up there at the moment as one of the hottest hands in the league and with the speed of Isaac Westbrooks, that tandem will give us food for thought.”

    Belfast Star can move into the final Play Off spot if they can emerge from their two difficult assignments against DCU Saints and 11890 Killester with maximum points.

    “It couldn’t get much harder than DCU Saints and 11890 Killester on the same weekend,” said Star Head Coach Danny Fulton. “If UCD Marian lose their last game we would need one win from four.

    “We don’t want to leave it until the last game so we are hoping this weekend can be a productive one,” added Fulton. “DCU are a very good side and possess a lot of more height than we have. Against Killester, our defence will need to be top class otherwise we will be in trouble.”

    DCU Saints can wrap up second place in the Northern Conference if they see off Belfast Star on Saturday night.
    “It turns out to be a big game as Star have put themselves right back in the hunt, we’ve already beaten them twice but they have everything to play for so we’ll have to keep our focus and give the same intensity and effort that we’ve been showing lately,” said Saints’ Irish international Emmet Donnelly.
    UL can secure the IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague Regular Season crown on Saturday if they can see off the challenge of 11890 Killester.

    “We haven’t won anything in a while so to win the Regular Season would be nice,” said UL Head Coach James Weldon. “It’s more important in terms of getting home advantage in the Play Off’s and hopefully we can achieve that.”

    11890 Killester will travel to UL without Jenny McGrath, Fiona Carrick, Ali Maguire and Fiona Ward this week as their injury problems show no signs of abating.

    Black Forge Oblate Dynamos travel to DCU Mercy on Sunday, safe in the knowledge that a fourth place and the final Play-Off position is secure.

    DCU Mercy Head Coach Mark Ingle is asking his side to be more consistent as they enter the business end of the season.

    “Consistency is the key at this stage and at the moment we have been struggling for consistency,” said Mercy Head Coach Mark Ingle.

    Meteors will be desperate to avoid finishing bottom of the table but they will be tested by a Waterford Wildcats side impressing in recent weeks.

    ENDS

    BASKETBALL IRELAND UPCOMING FIXTURES

    Thursday February 24 2011
    IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague
    Waterford Wildcats (Waterford) v Team Montonette Hotel Cork (Cork), Mercy Secondary School, 20:00

    Saturday February 26 2011
    Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague
    Bord Gais Neptune (Cork) v Moycullen (Galway), Neptune Stadium, 19:00; Belfast Star (Belfast) v DCU Saints (Dublin), De La Salle College, Anderstown, 19:15;UL Eagles (Limerick) v Ulster Elks (Belfast), UL PESS Building, 19:30; 11890 Killester (Dublin) v UCC Demons (Cork), IWA Clontarf, 20:00

    IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague
    UL (Limerick) v 11890 Killester (Dublin), UL PESS Building, 17:00;

    Basketball Ireland Men’s Division One
    Titans (Galway) v Blue Demons (Cork), Renmore Community Centre, 19:00; Waterford (Waterford) v Neptune (Cork), WIT Sports Hall, 19:30; Team Loftus Recycling Ballina (Mayo) v Portlaoise (Laois), Ballina Sports and Leisure Centre, 19:30; Team Meadowlands St.Brendans (Tralee, Kerry) v Team Garveys St.Mary’s (Castleisland, Kerry), Mercy Mounthawk Secondary School, 19:45; Tolka Rovers (Dublin) v CHM Ballon (Dublin), Tolka Rovers Sports Complex, 20:00

    Basketball Ireland Women’s Division One
    UL (Limerick) v Liffey Celtics (Dublin), UL PESS Building, 14:30; Thurles Knights (Tipperary) v Team Tom McCarthy’s St.Mary’s (Castleisland, Kerry), Presentation Thurles, 15:00

    Sunday February 27 2011
    Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague
    11890 Killester (Dublin) v Belfast Star (Belfast), IWA Clontarf, 19:00

    IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague
    Meteors (Dublin) v Waterford Wildcats (Waterford), Colaiste Eoin/Iosagain, 15:00; DCU Mercy (Dublin) v Black Forge Oblate Dynamos (Dublin), DCU Sports Complex, 15:30

    Basketball Ireland Men’s Division One
    Blue Demons (Cork) v Team Meadowlands St.Brendans (Tralee, Kerry), Mardyke Arena, 15:15

    Basketball Ireland Women’s Division One
    Brunell (Cork) v Foireann na Gaillimhe (Galway), Parochial Hall, 14:45

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