Basketball Ireland – National Cup Previews

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molten_basketball_105397This weekend will be the busiest of the season for knockout basketball as the opening rounds of the Men’s and Women’s National Cups come to a conclusion.

The average points’ gap heading into the second leg of the Men’s National Cup is 13 points, but Killester have the highest mountain to climb in giving C&S UCC Demons a 25 point head start in their second leg decider. Killester have averaged just 64 points a game since the first leg but Lehmon Colbert knows not to write off the orange and black. “If we want to win trophies this season, we have to be willing to go through Killester,” said the Demons’ forward.

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“18 points is nothing” according to UCD Head Coach Ioannis Liapakis and that’s the head start he brings to Cork for his sides second leg with BFG Neptune. Preston Ross remains an injury doubt for the students but British recruit Daniel Belgrave is cleared to make his debut.

Dublin Inter face a carbon copy of last year when they bring a UL Eagles side with an uneasy lead back to Clonsilla. Travelodge Swords Thunder will be quietly confident of overturning a 10 point deficit at the ALSAA but will have to be wary of Belfast Star’s Ricky Taylor, who hit a career high 42 points last week. Templeogue are the only team bar Demons to have home advantage and an aggregate lead heading into this weekend.

The Women’s National Cup jumps back into action on Friday night with a Cork derby. Team Montenotte Hotel came away from the Parochial Hall in the first leg with a 26 point cushion and the confidence to seal the deal against Singleton SuperValu Brunell.

Lindsay Peat has the recent experience of the 2014 All Ireland Ladies Football Final to remind her of the pitfalls of any lapse in concentration. Her DCU Mercy side have a 40 point lead against Meteors. “I’ve been involved in games where you’re ahead and you lose it. It’s not a nice feeling.”

The first leg of Killester versus Courtyard Liffey Celtics served up traditional Cup drama with a unique twist. “I’ve never tied a game in life,” exclaimed Killester forward Robin Murphy. The game stands at 76-76 following a rousing comeback from Celtics.

UL Huskies bring a seven point lead to Maxol WIT Wildcats’ home court but a recent league defeat in Waterford may create doubt in their minds.

Individual Previews:

Men’s National Cup Round 1 (2nd Leg)

 

Dublin Inter v UL Eagles

Saturday December 6th, Mountview Y&C Club, 18:00

1st Leg Result: UL Eagles 75-70 Dublin Inter

Dublin Inter face a carbon copy of last year when they bring a UL Eagles side with an uneasy lead back to Clonsilla. The 2013 version saw Dublin Inter sneak through in overtime and maintain cup momentum until the final. It means that Barry Ryan’s confidence isn’t out of turn. “We’re satisfied enough with how it stands,” says Dublin Inter’s Chairperson. “If you’d have offered us that scoreline beforehand, we’d have taken it because Cup basketball suits us.” UL Eagles are promising an ‘Old school cup game’, founded on high octane and a place to dictate the tempo.

 

C&S UCC Demons v Killester

Saturday December 6th, Mardyke Arena, 15:15

1st Leg Result: Killester 63-88 C&S UCC Demons

C&S UCC Demons look odds on to advance to the semi-finals. Killester come to the Mardyke averaging just 64 points a game since the first leg. They’ll need to up their scoring significantly to make a game of it and avoid a major dent in their overall confidence. What they won’t lack for however, is defensive stability and pedigree.

“If we want to win trophies this season, we have to be willing to go through Killester,” says Demons’ forward Lehmon Colbert. “We’ve played them a couple of times now and it’s heating up but they’ll know us inside and out.”

 

BFG Neptune v UCD Marian

Saturday December 6th, Neptune Stadium, 19:00

1st Leg Result: UCD Marian 95-77 BFG Neptune

Every Cup round throws up a surprise result and BFG Neptune are hoping to cause the shock of the weekend. UCD Marian Head Coach Ioannis Liapakis said that “18 points is nothing” after the first leg but his Neptune counterpart will need to agree with him to get anything out of this game. “We’re going out to win the game, not lose it by 17 points,” continued Liapakis – The Dubliners have had to learn their cup smarts the hard way. They’ll also be hoping that Preston Ross is back to full fitness after an ankle injury left him side lined him since mid-November.

 

Travelodge Swords Thunder v Belfast Star

Saturday December 6th, ALSAA, 19:00

1st Leg Result: Belfast Star 83-73 Travelodge Swords Thunder

Travelodge Swords Thunder will be quietly confident of overturning a 10 point deficit at the ALSAA but will have to be wary of Belfast Star’s Ricky Taylor. The Tennessee native hit a career high 42 points last week, is bringing the best out of his young teammates and helping Belfast Star to peak at the right time. Neal McCotter is high on confidence at the moment but hasn’t lost sight of the challenge that awaits him. “Swords are a top top team. They’ve got so much talent on their team, they can erase a 10 point lead in no time whatsoever.”

 

Templeogue v DCU Saints

Saturday December 6th, Oblate Hall, 19:00

1st Leg Result: DCU Saints 66-73 Templeogue

Templeogue are the only team bar Demons to have home advantage and an aggregate lead heading into this weekend. They blitzed DCU Saints late on in the first leg to bring a seven point head start back to the Oblate and are one of the form teams in the league. Templeogue shored up their defence to comeback in the first leg and Mark Keenan wants to pick up where they left off: “We have to be sharp from the jump. The first half it was too easy for them to move the ball. They were getting nice transition over our heads,” said the Head Coach.

 

The Women’s National Cup jumps back into action on Friday night. Two of the games suggest winners already but the remaining ties are still on a knife edge. In the first year of two-legged quarter finals, no club will want to learn the pitfalls of aggregate scoring this weekend.

 

Team Montenotte Hotel v Singleton SuperValu Brunell

Friday December 5th, Upper Glanmire Sports Hall, 20:00

1st Leg Result: Singleton SuperValu Brunell 55-81 Team Montenotte Hotel

This Cork derby gets the entire weekend underway on Friday night. Team Montenotte Hotel came away from the Parochial Hall in the first leg with a 26 point cushion and the confidence to seal the deal. Not that confidence could ever give way to complacency. Glanmire’s Marie Breen says their respect their rivals too much for that. “Every cup round throws up a crazy result and we just need to be sure it’s not us. They’re a confidence team and their shooters will go on a run. Whether they’ll go on a run of 20 points is the question.”

 

Meteors v DCU Mercy

Saturday December 6th, Coláiste Íosagáin, 16:00

1st Leg Result: DCU Mercy 99-59 Meteors

Meteors            face the toughest challenge of any team this weekend. They trail DCU Mercy by 40 points but Head Coach Eoin chubb is being pragmatic. “We can look at it as a 10 point win per quarter. That’s achievable – if Mercy can beat us by 40, we can beat them by 40 as well.”

Lindsay Peat’s experiences for the Dublin Ladies Footballers in 2014 means she’s not allowing for any lapse in concentration in a DCU Mercy uniform. “I’ve been involved in games where you’re ahead and you lose it. It’s not a nice feeling. When you train that hard three times a week you shouldn’t be letting anything go.”

 

Killester v Courtyard Liffey Celtics

Saturday December 6th, IWA Clontarf, 18:00

1st Leg Result: Killester 76-76 Courtyard Liffey Celtics

The first leg of this tie served up traditional Cup drama with a unique twist. “I’ve never tied a game in life,” exclaimed Killester forward Robin Murphy. “I’ll admit that’s a first!” The draw may have ended Killester’s losing streak, but there was plenty of value in Celtics’ comeback too. “You’d swear we’d won the cup when the shot went in to level it,” said Suzanne Maguire. “We know Killester and we’ve had a look at their Americans now too. They shot the ball extremely well and if they’d kept it up, we’d be blown out by 30 points. It was great to come back.”

 

Maxol WIT Wildcats v UL Huskies

Saturday December 6th, Mercy Waterford, 19:00

1st Leg Result: UL Huskies 69-61 Maxol WIT Wildcats

UL Huskies bring a seven point lead to Maxol WIT Wildcats’ home court but a recent league defeat in Waterford may create doubt in their minds. Huskies are almost unrecognisable from the side which contested the last three National Cup finals while Wildcats are showing signs of development under Br Phil Ryan. Both sides boast Americans who can create their own scores. Kelsey Harris has established herself as a natural leader in the Limerick camp while Olivia Applewhite is a leader by example in Waterford. It may happen that the imported talent cancels itself out allowing the young starlets in both camps the chance to become game winners.

 

Senior Women’s National Cup Quarter Finals

The Senior Women’s National Cup brings together clubs from Women’s Division One with other teams outside the National League looking to make a name for themselves. Last year’s finalists are on opposite sides of the draw but there’s still plenty of room for an upset in this weekend’s quarter final fixtures.

Meteors and Ballincollig get the round underway in Coláiste Íosagáin on Saturday afternoon as part of a club double-header for the Dubliners. Meteors overcame Brunell in comfortable fashion while Ballincollig had to work harder for their win over Tolka Rovers. Also in the top half of the draw, Tralee Imperials face Oblate Dynamos in a repeat of last year’s Semi-final. Tralee had 20 points to spare that day but lost out in the final.

In the other half of the draw is where the current holders lie. Champions Portlaoise Panthers cruised into the last eight with an 80-47 win over Glanmire. That defeat was the first by any Glanmire side in any national competition this season. Fr. Mathew’s provide the opposition after a comeback win over National League side IT Carlow. NUIG Mystics are in the last eight courtesy of a bye in the last round while their opponents Killester got into the Cup groove with a mid-week win over Templeogue. Sunday is the day when most of the action takes place.

 

Presidents’ National Cup

The Presidents’ National Cup is the new name for the Men’s National Shield but the old rules still apply. Men’s First Division Clubs must test their mettle against unproven opponents from outside the National League. It’s a format that’s ripe for drama.

KCYMS are Kerry’s sole representatives in this year’s competition and they’re doing their county proud. They were dauntless in accounting for a St. Vincent’s team in Dublin in the first round so a trip to Cork to take on C&S Blue Demons won’t phase them either.

St. Vincent’s first string side remain in the competition and showed glimpses of genuine class when accounting for Fr. Mathews in mid-November. SSE Renewables Moycullen will pose a greater threat at the quarter final stage, although home support should add a couple of scores to the Dubliners’ cause.

Team Left Bank Kilkenny may be struggling in the league, but they’ve shown already this season they’re a Cup force to be reckoned with. Wins over Killester and Tolka Rovers have gotten them this far, although UCD Marian will be their toughest game to date.

Maree and Titans complete the round and has the extra spice of being a Galway derby. Both sides were untested by non-League opposition last time out, so whoever wins will have their Cup credentials firmly established. Titans are the proud holders of last year’s trophy, having beaten Team Left Bank Kilkenny in the final. All the action takes place on Saturday.

 

The U18 National Cup Quarter Finals take place this weekend.

 

If you think it’s hard for teams at Premier League level to win a cup, consider this. It takes 4 games to win the Men’s or Women’s National Cup. In the U18 Cups, it takes 4 games just to reach the quarter finals. Home advantage is earned not drawn. All clubs have sampled pool games and knockout games in the space of a single weekend. Whoever wins the U18 national trophy can truly say they’re the best. Whoever has made it this far can already be proud.

In the U18 Men’s Cup, 8 teams remain with a geographic spread taking in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Belfast and Sligo.

KUBS and Maree hosted their own Round Robin phases but KUBS’ unbeaten streak will keep them at the Carroll Arena for the quarter final.

St. Vincent’s have looked unstoppable to date with an average winning margin of 41 points. They’ll come up against a Belfast Star side who are motoring well at all grades and relish a trip to the capital.

Fr. Mathews had six players break double digits for scoring on the opening weekend of this competition. Their opponents Sligo All Stars may be a surprise inclusion at this stage, but their defence has been solid to date.

Templeogue and Moycullen are the final pairing. Templeogue have the honour of defending their own title while Moycullen will want to be the last Galway club standing in this year’s competition.

 

In the women’s competition, the 8 clubs left standing are spread out across Dublin, Cork, Cavan and Kildare.

Sunday’s derby guarantees one team from the capital will make the final four. Mercy were the only Dubliners to make the semis last year but they’ll have to overcome DCU Mercy to repeat the feat this season.

East Cavan Eagles pulled off the shock of the tournament in knocking out beaten finalists Brunell in the qualifier. They conceded home advantage but Fr. Mathews will have to be wary of their Ulster opponents if they want to keep their unbeaten record intact.

St. Anthony’s are one of three Cork clubs who can make fill out the final four spots and take on Templeogue in their quarter final. Templeogue only lost home advantage to Glanmire, who not only are unbeaten to date, but have also seen a number of their players promoted to the Irish squad announced in recent weeks. Glanmire themselves take on Liffey Celtics. The Kildare women haven’t racked up any big scores yet but have one of the best defensive systems left in the competition.

 

Upcoming Fixtures:

Friday 5 December 2014

Women’s National Cup 2014-15 (Quarter Final 2nd Leg)

Team Montenotte Hotel v Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell Upper Glanmire Sports Centre, Cork 20:00

Saturday 6 December 2014

Men’s National Cup 2014-15 (Round One 2nd Leg)

C&S UCC Demons            v Killester Mardyke Arena, Cork 15:15

Dublin Inter v UL Eagles Mountview Y&C Club 18:00

BFG Neptune v UCD Marian Neptune Stadium, Cork            19:00

Templeogue v DCU Saints            Oblate Hall, Dublin 19:00

Travelodge Swords Thunder v Belfast Star ALSAA, Dublin 19:00

Women’s National Cup 2014-15 (Quarter Final 2nd Leg)

Meteors vDCU Mercy Scoil Iosagain            16:00

Killester v Courtyard Liffey Celtics IWA Clontarf, Dublin 18:00

Maxol WIT Wildcats v UL Huskies Mercy SS Waterford 19:00

President’s National Cup Quarter Finals (Senior Men’s Cup for Division One and Non-League Teams)

C&S Blue Demons v KCYMS Mardyke Arena, Cork 13:00

UCD Marian BC v Team Left Bank Kilkenny UCD Sports Centre, Dublin            19:00

JM&L Auctioneers Titans v Maree Community Centre, Knocknacarra, Galway 19:00

St Vincent’s BC v SSE Renewables Moycullen            St Vincent’s Secondary School 20:00

Senior Women’s National Quarter Finals (For Division One and Non-League Teams)

Meteors BC v Ballincollig BC Colaiste Iosagain, Dublin            13:15

 

U18 Men’s National Cup Quarter Finals

St. Vincent’s 1 v Belfast Star St Vincent’s Secondary School            17:00

Fr Mathews v Sligo All Stars Colaiste Chriost Ri, Cork            18:00

U18 Women’s National Cup Quarter Finals

Fr. Mathews BC v East Cavan Eagles Colaiste Chriost Ri, Cork            15:00

St. Anthony’s BC v Templeogue St Anthony’s, Ballinlough 19:00

Sunday 7 December 2014

Senior Women’s National Quarter Finals (For Division One and Non-League Teams)

Fr Mathews BC v Portlaoise Panthers BC Colaiste Chriost Ri, Cork            12:00

Oblate Dynamos v Tralee Imperials            Oblate Hall, Dublin 13:30

NUIG Mystics v Killester BC Calasanctius College Oranmore, Galway 13:30

U18 Men’s National Cup Quarter Finals

KUBS v Maree Carroll Arena, Greendale 13:00

Moycullen v Templeogue            Colaiste Iognaid, Galway 17:00

U18 Women’s National Cup Quarter Finals

DCU Mercy v Meteors BC            DCU Sports Complex, Dublin 12:45

Glanmire BC v Liffey Celtics Glanmire Community Centre 14:00