A crucial Cork derby on Friday night heads up a three game fixture list this weekend in the Nivea For Mens SuperLeague.
Aside from the meeting of second placed UCC Demons and third placed Bord Gais Neptune in the Mardyke Arena on Friday night, the weekend sees UL Eagles travel to Dublin on Saturday to take on Killester while on Sunday it is the turn of UCD Marian and DCU Saints.
With Eagles, Demons and Neptune all tightly packed at the top of the table, Friday nights result could have major bearing as to where the title resides come March.
The two teams have an awful lot to gain from the game in terms of league positions, remarked Demons head coach Paul Kelleher.
Its big for them obviously to get back in touch with ourselves and Eagles and for us, we know that with the league so competitive this season, if you take your eye off the ball at all you can quickly find yourself too far behind.
While Kelleher has been forced to select his team without the reliable services of Shane Duggan who is out with a knee injury, he can look forward to continued improvement of Niall Murphy and Carlton Cuffe who have both re-joined the line-up after being out of action themselves through injury.
Murphy, who has been side-lined for much of the past three season would be a massive addition to the squad should he remain healthy and regain even some of his past form.
I think both lads will be a little bit sharper again this weekend in their second game back from their injuries, said Kelleher.
Meanwhile, Neptune head coach Mark Scannell described Friday nights game as vital for his team if they are to hold onto any title aspirations.
With a full squad of players to choose from, Scannell knows that a loss this weekend will see them fall three games back of Eagles and Demons while the latter will own a tie-breaker should it come down to that courtesy of their win over Neptune in October.
If we can win well be right back in the thick of things so it is vital that we get the win really, he said.
The fact that both teams meet again in the cup semi-final in a little over two weeks adds extra drama to the fixture as does the matchup between their American players of contrasting style as the athletic dynamism of Darren Townes for Neptune will square off against the size and strength of Demons Kenton Walker.
On Saturday, defending SuperLeague champions UL Eagles will look to remind everyone that the title resides in Limerick where they intend to keep it as take on Killester in Clontarf.
A surprise loss to DCU Saints before Christmas has left a sour taste in head coach Mark Keenans mouth and challengers to Eagles throne will be anxious to see if it was a once off result or signs of something more.
Its important for us to bounce back after the last result and gain some momentum heading into the New Year. Killester have shown some good form at home and cannot be taken granted, said Keenan.
The signing of Michael Bonaparte in December has rejuvenated Dublin club and their last outing saw them come within a basket of Neptune after two late turnovers cost Killester a game they should have won.
On four wins and eight losses they are not genuine contenders for the league title this season but remain very much in the mix for a run at fourth place and a likely spot in the Champions Trophy end of season tournament.
The final game of the weekend sees cross city Dublin rivals UCD Marian and DCU Saints lock horns. Saints remain within touching distance of the top three but a loss this Sunday would all but end whatever hopes they have of a title run.
A low scoring 63 52 game between the teams when they last met saw Saints emerge victorious and the league finalists from a season ago would be more than happy to partake in another defensive battle again this Sunday.
Marian have a squad packed with potential 20 point scorers and will be looking to end a miserable 2012 on a high note and move themselves off the bottom of the SuperLeague table where they reside with just three wins from 11 games.
The Weekends Basketball Fixtures
Friday December 28th
Nivea For Men's SuperLeague
UCC Demons v Bord Gais Neptune, Mardyke, 20:00
Saturday December 29th
Nivea For Men's SuperLeague
Killester v UL Eagles, I.W.A Clontarf, 18:00
Sunday December 30th
Nivea For Men's SuperLeague
UCD Marian v DCU Saints, UCD Sports Complex, 15:00
32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he avera... [read more]
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (LKL) signed 32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he averaged 9.2ppg, 2.6rpg and 4.6apg. The other team he played shortly was Anadolu Efes in Turkish league. In 5 Euroleague games he got 4.0ppg, 1.4rpg and 1.0apg. McGrath also spent pre-season at La ICL Manresa (also in Liga Endesa) that year. He was a member of Irish Senior National Team between 2006 and 2008. McGrath is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in France (Cholet Basket), Greece (PAOK Thessaloniki, AEK Athens and Egaleo), Italy (Openjobmetis VA, Verona and BancaTercas), Lithuania (Zalgiris) and Russia (Spartak St.Petersburg). McGrath attended Providence College until 2006 and it will be his eleventh (!!!) season as a professional player.
Ian O'Leary agreed terms with Fuenlabrada - 13 days ago
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30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. A... [read more]
Montakit Fuenlabrada (Liga Endesa) strengthened their roster with addition of 30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. Among other achievements O'Leary played in the final of WCC Tournament in 2009. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB Silver Forward of the Year award back in 2011. O'Leary has played previously for four other teams: Blancos de Rueda, Palencia Baloncesto, Vigo and Oviedo CB. He attended Saint Mary's College of California until 2009 and it will be his eighth season in pro basketball. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Overlooked somewhat at college but has blossomed in Europe. Strong going to the basket and has good athletic ability. Working on being more consistent outside the 3pt line but provides a real mis match for teams.
A very good athlete he is able to play several positions effectively because of a great mix of size and quickness. Rebounds like a center but runs like a guard. Very effective mid range jumper causes a lot of problems cause he is able to just shoot over top of most defenders. Can handle the ball and has no problem handling pressure and being a release valve for any backcourt. Aggressive offensive mind set makes him lead by example. At college played in a system to showcase NBA Draft choice Patrick Mills, but his performance in Europe will be very different as he will be allowed to show his complete game. Has very long arms and consistently tips and blocks shots from the backside and weak side. A very complete player is capable of playing at very high levels as he continues to develop. Shoots the deep ball quite well and is extending his range which for a player his size will make him deadly.
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