Top two meet in potential season defining Super League Basketball clash
A Cork derby between UCC Demons and Energywise Ireland Neptune at a sold-out Mardyke Arena on Friday night will provide a fiery hors d’oeuvre to this weekend’s InsureMyVan.ie Super League League action.
‘As always with a Cork derby, it promises to be a great atmosphere,’ said UCC Demons (9-4) head coach Daniel O’Mahony. ‘Neptune’s newest American (Tarkus Ferguson) certainly makes them better, that’s been evident in performances recently. As always, we will focus on us. They’re a difficult team to break down, as either of the three Americans are capable to scoring and Xabi (Arriaga) & Nil (Sabata) have done really well against us,’ he added.
Their previous meeting this season ended in a one-point Energywise Ireland Neptune (8-5) win, but O’Mahony’s opposite number Colin O’Reilly isn’t reading too much into that: ‘Both teams have made changes since we played earlier in the season, so that adds an extra ingredient to the game. Demons are the inform team in the country, so we know heading to the Mardyke we need to be as close to perfect as possible in all areas of our play to challenge them.’ O’Reilly said.
Belfast Star and University of Galway Maree hold the joint-distinction of the best record in Irish men’s basketball at 10-3, with both holding a slender one game lead in the Northern and Southern Conference respectively.
Adrian Fulton’s Belfast Star have been dealt a blow this week with the news that Max Cooper will miss the remainder of the season after dislocating a shoulder against Killester, but Fulton insists that won’t be used as an excuse for their clash with UCD Marian (2-11): ‘We are under no illusions as to how difficult this game will be. A very talented, if inexperienced, UCD team playing at home where their crowd always gets behind them. We played well last weekend and are going well but to lose Max Cooper for the remainder of the season is a massive blow. We must have that ‘next man up mentality’ and no doubt the players will respond,’ Fulton said.
University of Galway Maree head coach Charlie Crowley enjoyed the satisfaction of a local derby win over Moycullen a week ago. Crowley is anticipating another ‘hostile environment’ when they make the trip to take on Norther Conference rivals EJ Sligo All-Stars: ‘Going to Sligo will be as hostile an environment we’ll play in this year. They pack out the gym and make it really difficult for opposition teams. We’re working to get back to top form both physically and mentally after last week’s performance,’ added Crowley.
DBS Éanna (9-4) are on a rebound mission on home soil. Bright St Vincent’s (4-9) are the visitors, with Darren McGovern’s InsureMyHouse.ie National Cup finalists aiming to end a two-game skid in the InsureMyVan.ie Super League and maintain the pressure on Belfast Star in the Northern Conference. Josko Srzic’s Bright St.Vincent’s enjoyed a first win in four games against EJ Sligo All-Stars a week ago. The Donovan Fields, Giorgi Tvalabeishvilli tandem was to the fore in that one, combining for 50-points.
‘Flexachem KCYMS (3-10) away is one of the toughest fixtures for any team, let alone when it’s a derby,’ said Garvey’s Tralee Warriors (6-7) head coach John Dowling ahead of the sides locking horns at the Killorglin Sports Centre. ‘They will be well prepared, and we understand we will have to be at our best if we are going to come out on top,’ he added. The Warriors made it back-to-back wins for just the second time this season last time out, defeating Emporium Cork Basketball. Flexachem KCYMS are without a win since December 10th but have turned in many steady performances in that time.
Elsewhere this weekend Griffith College Templeogue (5-8) and third-placed Northern Conference outfit Killester (8-4) contest a Dublin derby at the National Basketball Arena and Emporium Cork Basketball (8-4) look to keep pace at the top of the Southern Conference on the road against the conference’s bottom team, Moycullen (2-11).
Trinity Meteors head coach Niall Berry insists there has been ‘no let-up in our schedule,’ as he prepares his team for a top of the table clash against the defending MissQuote.ieSuper League champions, The Address UCC Glanmire on Sunday afternoon.
The Dublin team allayed some demons last weekend, defeating their cup conquerors Killester in the Super League, but the Meteors head coach believes the wounds won’t have fully healed yet: ‘Losing a final always has an impact,’ said Berry. ‘However, we had a fantastic practice last night off the back of our performance against Killester this weekend. The game seems to have had a very positive effect on the squad. We’ll be as prepared as we can be for Glanmire this weekend and we’re all excited to see if we can go get the result we’re looking for.’
The Address UCC Glanmire have only lost twice in all competitions this season, both against their upcoming opponents. Mark Scannell’s side are unbeaten in the MissQupte.ie Super League since a 76-69 defeat in the Trinity Sports Centre in October: ‘With six games to go, we are still in the thick of it and considering our player turnover there is huge credit due to our players in the way that they’ve battled through this season,’ said Scannell. ‘We will have to be at our very best as we’ve lost to them in twice this year. We have big game players who have been here before and their experience will be crucial if we are to keep our title defence on track.’
Third-placed DCU Mercy (8-4) secured a big win against Waterford Wildcats a week ago, as the Champions Trophy starts to loom larger on the horizon. Mark Ingle’s team are comfortably the best defensive team in the league statistically, giving up a meagre 59-points-per-game to their opposition. That stat will be put to the test against i3Pt Fr.Mathews (5-7) on Sunday. The Niamh Dwyer coached Cork outfit put up 104-points in their most recent victory over Ulster University, a game in which five players reached double-digits in scoring. Grainne Dwyer, Sydney Candelaria and Shannon Brady taking turns to manage the scoring burden.
Some of the best up and coming Irish talent faceoff when University of Galway Mystics (1-11) host Waterford Wildcats (6-6). ‘They have a host of players that can step up and hit scores,’ said Wildcats head coach Tommy O’Mahony. ‘We are well aware we will need to up our performance if we are to get anything out if the game. Playing in Galway is always a tough place but after our game last weekend we are eager to get on the court again and show people what we are capable of. His opposite number Paul O’Brien is equally aware of the challenge that lies in store: ‘They are coming off a tough loss, but I expect they will be fired up for Saturday and have some very dangerous players. With Sarah Hickey and Karli Seay, they have dynamic scorers and are always a good defensive group. I am delighted with our group’s progression over the course of the season and want to continue to see our growth over the last 6 games,’ added O’Brien.
Killester (6-6) could move into fourth spot in the table if results go their way, but InsureMyHouse.ie National Cup winning coach Mark Grennell isn’t getting ahead of himself in preparations to face Singleton SuperValu Brunell (5-7): ‘It’s a bounce back game for us. We were not at our best last weekend, credit to Trinity they were better. This weekend poses completely different challenges than the past two weeks, but certainly not any easier. Dealing with Edel (Thornton) and the plethora of talent available to Liam (Culloty) will be difficult.,’ said Grennell.
Singleton SuperValu head coach Liam Culloty is also prepared for a close encounter: ‘Really tough challenge ahead this weekend playing the InsureMyHouse.ieNational Cup champions in their first home game since winning the trophy. I’m sure the atmosphere will be electric. We managed to get over the line last weekend and will look to build on the improvements we have being showing. Our team are training really hard and looking to finish the season on a strong note,’ he added.
Saturday’s remaining MissQuote.ie Super League fixture sees Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics (4-8) making the 190-kilometre trip to play Ulster University (3-9) at the Jordanstown Sports Complex. The home side had a two-game winning streak ended by i3PR Fr.Mathews last time out, but previously had gained some much needed momentum after a difficult season on the injury front. Emily Maupin and Alexandra Posset have stepped up to the mark in recent weeks. They’ll need to be on form once more. Karl Kilbride’s Liffey Celtics had three players named in the latest Ireland women’s squad. Ciara Bracken, Áine O’Connor and Sorcha Tiernan have to put their international ambitions on the back-burner to get the Kildare side back trending in the right direction. They are without a win in four games and currently sit in 8th place in the standings.
InsureMyVan.ie Super League
Friday, February 3rd
1930|UCC Demons v Energywise Ireland Neptune, Mardyke Arena
Saturday, February 4th
1700|Griffith College Templeogue v Killester, National Basketball Arena
1800|DBS Éanna v Bright St. Vincent’s, Colaiste Eanna
1900|UCD Marian v Belfast Star, UCD Sports Centre
1900|Moycullen v Emporium Cork Basketball, Kingfisher Gym
1915|Felxachem KCYMS v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors, Killorglin Sports Complex
1930|EJ Sligo All-Stars v University of Galway Maree, Mercy College Sligo
InsureMyVan.ie Division 1
Saturday, February 4th
1700|Team North West v Moy Tolka Rovers, ATU Donegal
1900|SETU Waterford Vikings v Malahide, SETU Arena
1900|Portlaoise Panthers v Ulster University, St. Mary’s Hall, Portlaoise
1900|Limerick Celtics v Dwyers of Cork Fr.Mathews, Crescent College Dooradoyle
1915|Killarney Cougars v SETU Carlow, Presentation Gym
1945|Limerick Sport Eagles v Scotts Lakers SPK, UL Arena
Sunday, February 5th
1600|Abbey Seals Dublin Lions v Drogheda Wolves, Colaiste Bride
MissQuote.ie Super League
Saturday, February 4th
1530|University of Galway Mystics v Waterford Wildcats, Kingfisher Gym
1700|Ulster University v Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics, Jordanstown Sports Village
1730|Killester v Singleton SuperValu Brunell, IWA Clontarf
Sunday, February 5th
1430|DCU Mercy v i3PT Fr.Mathews, DCU Arena
1430|The Address UCC Glanmire v Trinity Meteors, Mardyke Arena
MissQuote.ie Division 1
Saturday, February 4th
1600|McEvoy’s Cavan Eagles v Phoenix Rockets, Virginia Show Centre
1630|St. Pauls Killarney v SETU Carlow, Aura
1645|Limerick Celtics v Portlaoise Panthers, Crescent College Dooradoyle
1700|Limerick Sport Huskies v Marble City Hawks, UL Arena
1900|Oblate Dynamos v Abbey Seals Dublin Lions, Oblate Hall