A single basket was all that stopped the two top teams in the Nivea For Mens SuperLeague from losing at the weekend as UL Eagles and UCC Demons were both engaged in tight affairs.
While Demons emerged victorious from their scrap with Cork city rivals Bod Gais Neptune, UL Eagles suffered a shock defeat in Dublin at the hands of Killester. Elsewhere, DCU Saints continued their recent revival with a convincing win away to UCD Marian on Sunday.
Speaking after his teams heroic performance against UL Eagles in the IWA Centre in Clontarf on Saturday night, Killester head coach Tom Doherty was gushing with praise for his players.
These guys give everything, they epitomise hard work and unselfishness. Limerick have beaten us a few times in succession so pride was at stake and I think we deserved the win with the way, he said.
We wont be going overboard, there are a number of areas we need to improve on but we got a lot of things right [Saturday night].
A key area of success for Killester was their defensive rebounding as the inside rotation of Michael Bonaparte, Kieran OBrien, Alan Casey and Mike Westbrooks kept the powerful Eagles front court off the offensive boards.
Doherty also pointed to the containment job his team did on the potent UL backcourt of Rob Taylor and Scott Kinevane.
They (UL Eagles) are a class outfit and even when they were down 30 they came back at us to make it close in the end. Thankfully, unlike the Neptune game recently, we held our nerve and found a way to win when we needed to, said Doherty.
Killester will have little time to celebrate the win however as they are back in action mid-week in Cork against Bord Gais Neptune who will be eager to avenge their two point loss to UCC Demons over the weekend.
Despite trailing by 17 points at the half time mark in the Friday night fixture, Neptune rallied in the third and fourth quarter to bring the deficit down to just a single point with under a minute remaining.
However, Neptunes Darren Townes missed a golden opportunity to become the hero as his final shot attempt missed the target only to be rebounded by Demons Kenton Walker who was fouled and nailed one free-throw to secure victory for the home side as they improved to 10 wins on the season.
The game marked the second time this season that the Cork derby threw up a thrilling finish after a scrappy contest and sets up a hugely intriguing SuperLeague Cup semi-final in less than two weeks time between the sides when another capacity crowd is expected to enjoy the spectacle.
Perhaps conscious of that cup game ahead, Demons head coach Paul Kelleher was reluctant to be overly-joyous after the game.
We need to start improving our second half performances. That game should never have been that close at the end but we let them get out and start running in the second half which they can do exceptionally well.
We need to be more clinical, after a solid start by us they went on and buried us in the second half.
A contributing factor to Demons second half collapse was undoubtedly the absence of three key figures for them, namely Shane Duggan, Niall Murphy and Ciaran OSullivan with fatigue becoming a major factor late in the game.
Coach Kelleher will be hoping at least two of these will be back in full health come next weekend for their meeting with UCD Marian as well as the cup fixture with Neptune the following Friday night.
In their league match at the weekend, UCD Marian suffered from the absence of their American centre John Galvin as they fell to DCU Saints 65 to 81.
The win moves Saints to six wins and six losses on the season, placing them fourth in the league and just one game behind third placed Neptune.
There were strong performances from Saints inside out combination of Martins Provisors and Keith Anderson who combined for 44 points and had their team in a comfortable position throughout the game.
We talked before the game about the fact that we were bigger than them and we got a lot of use out of posting guys up which helped us build the lead, said Saints head coach Dave Donnelly.
They doubled down on us after a while and switched to zone which did cause us problems but Keith Anderson and Eoin Quill made some shots that stretched the floor again for us.
While the Nivea For Mens SuperLeague action took much of the attention over the weekend, the biggest basketball event was happening in Kerry as the 43rd Annual St Marys Basketball Blitz took place in Castleisland.
With over 183 games, 165 teams and 1650 plus competitors, the weekend is the biggest single basketball event in Ireland.
At the senior finals on Sunday an estimated crowd of 2,000 people attended to witness NUIG Mystics and Tralee Imperials in the womens final and home side Team Garveys take on Ballincollig in the mens.
The true essence of the blitz is in its sheer size however as competitions range from boys and girls in second class in primary school up to senior men and women playing in divisions one through four depending on their respective standard.
One of the finals that epitomised this range in level most was the enthralling encounter between Ultras and Lions in the Division 4 Mens final. Both teams comprise of friends who get together each Christmas just to play and after a brilliant game the score finished 16 to 16 and went into extra time.
In the last minute it was still level but the lions just had the edge and finished 21-18 winners with Rory McGrath walking away with the Most Valuable Players trophy.
Likewise, there was overtime in the fourth class primary school final as local schools Cordal and Scart played out a not-to-be-forgotten contest. After three minutes of added time and the loss of all the spectators fingernails, the girls from Cordal were the ones to lift the trophy courtesy of some late free-throws.
This has to be without a doubt one of the best blitz that we have had so far, from early St Stephens day the crowds have been in both hall supporting all the teams, remarked St Marys club PRO Brid Kenny on Sunday.
Basketball Ireland Weekend Results
Nivea For Mens SuperLeague
Friday December 28th
UCC Demons 68 (41) (K Walker 19 S Coughlin 18, C Cuff 16 ) Bord Gais Neptune: 66 (24) (D Townes 24, I McLaughlin 7, G Walsh 6)
Saturday December 29th
Killester 84 (42) (M Bonaparte 21, K O'Brien 12, A Casey 13) UL Eagles 76 (34) (R Taylor 14, J Killeen 19, S Kinevane 15)
Sunday December 30th
UCD Marian 65 (31) (K Foley 15, D James 15, C Meany 11) DCU Saints 81 (53) (M Provisors 22, K Anderson 22, P Glover 12)
Colin O'Reilly (ex UCC Demons) takes over Cheshire Phoenix - 2 days ago
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Cheshire Phoenix (BBL) agreed terms with 32-year old Irish coach Colin O'Reilly. He has coached for the last three seasons at UCC Demons in Irish Premier League. He helped them to win the league title. Quite impressive season as he was voted Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Coach of the Year. O'Reilly has been coaching Irish Senior National Team between 2015 and 2016 and coached also U18 National Team last year. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List in Unit... [read more]
Cheshire Phoenix (BBL) agreed terms with 32-year old Irish coach Colin O'Reilly. He has coached for the last three seasons at UCC Demons in Irish Premier League. He helped them to win the league title. Quite impressive season as he was voted Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Coach of the Year. O'Reilly has been coaching Irish Senior National Team between 2015 and 2016 and coached also U18 National Team last year.
32-year old coach Colin O'Reilly left C&S UCC Demons Cork (Premier League). He helped them to win the league title. It was a very successful season in his career as he was awarded Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Coach of the Year. O'Reilly has been coaching Irish Senior National Team between 2015 and 2016 and coached also U18 National Team last year. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List in Ireland [read more]
32-year old coach Colin O'Reilly left C&S UCC Demons Cork (Premier League). He helped them to win the league title. It was a very successful season in his career as he was awarded Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Coach of the Year. O'Reilly has been coaching Irish Senior National Team between 2015 and 2016 and coached also U18 National Team last year.
Irish U20 National Team 2016 Blount Coombes Flood Gilligan Neary Gary Barron KUBS Jordan Blount198-G-97Ill.-Chicago Graham Brannelly DCU Saints Charlie Coombes190-G-96SE Oklahoma Kyle Cunningham Moycullen Sean Flood188-PG-96Templeogue Conor Gilligan185-F-96DCU Saints Christian Healy Eoghan Kiernan208-C-96Killester Martin Neary193-F-97DCU Saints Stephen O'Hanlon174-PG-97High School Diarmuid O'Shea201-F-96UL Eagles Joseph Tummon204-F/C-97Moycullen Aaron... [read more]
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