The stakes do not get any higher, as this week the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght hosted Irish basketballs showpiece event.
The National Cup finals are where every team wants to be and this years event was a wonderful spectacle for those lucky enough to secure tickets to the sold-out arena.
The highlight of this action-packed weekend came on Friday night as Bord Gais Neptune defeated UL Eagles to end 21 years of hurt and claim their first National Cup since 1992.
Neptune are one of the celebrated institutions in Irish basketball and the long wait for this trophy ensured there were wild scenes of jubilation at the buzzer. It was a stunning performance from the Neptune players and for many, this win represented a career defining achievement.
For Neptune veteran Ger Noonan, it was a particularly poignant moment.
"I cant believe it to be honest. My best friend died ten years ago last week. He was part of the team. I think its fitting that Neptune as a team and as a club dedicate this win to Emmett Neville. Im absolutely wrecked but its worth it," he said.
Neptune coach Mark Scannell was keen to pay tribute to Noonan, "Ger Noonan cant walk some nights after training. His body is breaking down but you look at his performance tonight, absolutely top drawer, he said.
In the womens final, UL Huskies sealed another National Cup with a win over Team Montenotte Hotel Cork. While clearly inspired by the games MVP Michelle Fahy and the tenacious Rachel Vanderwal, the nature of the ULs win spoke to a fantastic collective effort.
Coach James Weldon was certainly keen to stress the commitment of all involved with this UL side," Im running out of things to say to the girls when they win trophies. I just want to pay tribute to our backroom staff. We are not really about old school coaching here at UL. Its a team effort and all the little things that people do add up to success."
While much of the attention was focused on the SuperLeague sides, there was plenty of other action to enjoy over the course of the weekend. For Brunell of Cork, it was a very special weekend as they captured a historic U18 and U20 Womens double.
Coach Kieran OLeary believes the victories are a sign that future success is imminent for the senior side. "We are in SuperLeague at the moment, and with back-to-back U-18 titles Im confident we are going to get to the top of the table in the next few years. This is a great achievement for the club. I cant say enough about those kids. They are brilliant."
A star in both age-groups, young Edel Thornton collected MVP honours in the U18 and U20 final scoring a combined 52 points in the games.
Not satisfied with her incredible weekend haul, she already has her sights on yet bigger prizes in the years ahead.
"We want to come back here again next year again and win the U-18s and U-20s again. That will set us up well for the SuperLeague. We have to keep doing the right things and not become cocky," she said.
Meanwhile Belfast Star coach Adrian Fulton was sounding a little more contented after his U18 Mens cup triumph, claiming " the search for the holy grail is over" after his side defeated Moycullen 68-57 in the U-18 boys final.
"The last time we won a club All Ireland title was 1989.We have been so close before. Weve lost 5 semi-finals and a couple of finals,but what these guys have done is absolutely incredible," he said.
For teams outside the elite SuperLeague, the Division 1 finals were held on Saturday afternoon.
Oblate Dynamos secured their first ever national title with victory over Tralee Imperials, a victory which coach Terry Staunton was struggling to digest at full time.
"This has been an amazing season. We were struggling before Christmas. We brought Jolie Niland back and she has made the difference for us. To get here was brilliant but to win it is just unbelievable. This win is for our fans. They have been with us every step of the way," Staunton said.
In the Senior Mens National Cup final, Blue Demons enjoyed a convincing win 76-62 over Team Garveys St Marys 76-62. Coach Cormac ODonoghue was pleased that his side got over the line after a tempestuous encounter.
"I let the lads know at half time that we needed to keep focussed and keep the head. They did that in the second half and I think we controlled the game from there. Hopefully we can build on this win now," he added.
While Thornton looked ahead, Luke Thompson - who collected the MVP honours in the U20 Mens Cup final after his Templeogue side defeated Killester 64 to 49 took some time to look back and thank those who had helped him and the team reach the winners platform.
The development of this team has taken place over a number of years. We are very grateful to all the people who have helped us along to get here," Thompson said.
Basketball Ireland Weekend Results National Cup Finals
All games took place at the National Basketball Arena
Friday January 25th
Men's SuperLeague Cup Final
UL Eagles 65 (30) (N Campbell 18; R Taylor 15; J Killeen 11) Bord Gais Neptune 85 (43) (M Mcginn 28; D Townes 23; G Noonan 14)
Womens SuperLeague Cup Final
UL Huskies 69 (33) (R vanderwal 26; M Fahy 14; R Clancy 13) Team Momtenotte Hotel Cork 59 (31) (G Dwyer 20; T Bacic 15; M Breen 10)
Saturday January 26th
Mens Senior National Cup Final
Blue Demons 76 (42) (B ONeill 23; K Hosford 14; T Priou 11) Team Garveys St Marys 62 (38) (J Tehan 15; B Clernon 15; D Griffin 14)
Glanmire BC (Super League), team who changed his name after 10 years (ex Montenotte Hotel Cork) re-signed 25-year old American guard Chantell Alford (178-91, college: Boston, agency: Gamble Sports Management). She played there last season. In 13 Super League games she recorded 9.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.9spg and 1.6bpg. Alford helped them to win the Premier League title and the cup. Great season indeed as she was voted to Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Honorable Mention. The previ... [read more]
Glanmire BC (Super League), team who changed his name after 10 years (ex Montenotte Hotel Cork) re-signed 25-year old American guard Chantell Alford (178-91, college: Boston, agency: Gamble Sports Management). She played there last season. In 13 Super League games she recorded 9.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.9spg and 1.6bpg. Alford helped them to win the Premier League title and the cup. Great season indeed as she was voted to Eurobasket.com All-Irish Premier League Honorable Mention. The previous (14-15) season she played at Al Riyadi in Lebanese league. Alford contributed to her team winning the Lebanese League title. She received All-AEC Co-Player of the Year award back in 2013 at her college time. Alford has played also professionally in Belarus (Tsmoki-Minsk). She attended Boston until 2013 and it will be her fourth season in pro basketball.
Salerno inks Sarah Kenny, ex Glanmire - 22 days ago
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Carpedil Salerno (Serie A2) signed 19-year old Irish international power forward Sarah Kenny (180-97). She has played for the last three seasons at Glanmire in Irish Super League. In 9 games she had 3.4ppg and 3.7rpg last season. Kenny helped them to win the Premier League title and the cup. Despite young age Kenny had impressive career. She was voted Eurobasket.com All-European Championships U18 Division B 2nd Team in 2015. She has been also a member of Irish international program for so... [read more]
Carpedil Salerno (Serie A2) signed 19-year old Irish international power forward Sarah Kenny (180-97). She has played for the last three seasons at Glanmire in Irish Super League. In 9 games she had 3.4ppg and 3.7rpg last season. Kenny helped them to win the Premier League title and the cup. Despite young age Kenny had impressive career. She was voted Eurobasket.com All-European Championships U18 Division B 2nd Team in 2015. She has been also a member of Irish international program for some years. Kenny played for Irish senior team this year and previously for U18 National Team between 2014 and 2015. She represented Ireland at the European Championships U20 Division B in Podgorica (Montenegro) this year. Her stats at that event were 6 games: 6.7ppg, Reb-4 (11.2rpg), 2.3apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 27.9%, 3PT: 9.1%, FT: 75.0%.
The Stuart Robbins tournament will take place in the UL Sport Arena on Friday and Saturday 9/10th of September.
free entry to all games and everyone welcome.
fixtures as below with the Stuart Robbins All Stars playing two games during the tournament as well.
Friday Home Away Group
18:45 SR All Stars v Ul Eagles Exhibition
20:15 USA Select v Eanna Group B
Saturday Home Away Group
10:00 Ul Eagles v Moycullen Group A
11:30 Eanna v Swords Thunder Group B
13:00 Templeogue... [read more]
The Stuart Robbins tournament will take place in the UL Sport Arena on Friday and Saturday 9/10th of September. free entry to all games and everyone welcome. fixtures as below with the Stuart Robbins All Stars playing two games during the tournament as well.
Friday Home Away Group 18:45 SR All Stars v Ul Eagles Exhibition 20:15 USA Select v Eanna Group B
Saturday Home Away Group 10:00 Ul Eagles v Moycullen Group A 11:30 Eanna v Swords Thunder Group B 13:00 Templeogue v Moycullen Group A 14:30 USA Select v Swords Thunder Group B 16:00 Templeogue v Ul Eagles Group A 17:30 SR All Stars v Eanna Exhibition 18:45 Final
From : https://www.facebook.com/UL-Eagles-Basketball-354867134799/?fref=ts
Usa Select facebook link for information on the details of this USA Select's Ireland / International Tour :https://www.facebook.com/usaselectbasketball/?fref=ts Eanna Basketball Club on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Eannabasketball/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf&qsefr=1 Templeogue Basketball Club : https://www.facebook.com/TempleogueBasketballClub/?fref=ts Swords Thunder : https://www.facebook.com/Griffith-Swords-Thunder-Basketball-Team-194874824025607/?fref=ts
Preview: Ireland v Iceland Sep 07,2016
Ireland and Iceland have named their squads for the upcoming 'Fire & Ice' series in Dublin and Cork.
The sides will meet at the National Basketball Arena for the first time since 2009 on Friday September 9th before a replay at Neptune Stadium on Saturday September 10th.
Both island nations competed in the 2009 Eurobasket Qualifiers before dropping off the international map at FIBA level. Iceland returned to action with silver at the European Championships for Small Countries in 2014 and are now competing in the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 qualifiers. They are third in Group E ahead of Portugal but behind Hungary and Slovakia.
Ireland returned to the International scene in 2016 with a silver medal at the FIBA European Championships for Small Countries with two players who played against Iceland in the 2009 qualifiers.
Claire Rockall started all four games for Ireland at this summer's European Championships in Gibraltar, but came off the bench as a rookie in a 71-65 win over Iceland at the National Basketball Arena on August 26th 2009. Sarah Woods was also a substitute that day and was named on the tournament All-Star team in Gibraltar.
All 11 silver medallists have been named in the squad along with Ireland U18 starlet Claire Melia who impressed with double-digit scoring in both friendlies against the North Carolina Tar Heels in August. Grainne Dwyer returns to captain the side.
Two Icelanders will be making their return to Dublin - Ragna Brynjarsdottir and Sigrun Amundadottir also graduating from the subs bench to the starting five over the past seven years.
The similarities continue as Head Coach var Asgrimsson, like Mark Scannell, is also in his second stint in charge with his country.
A number of younger players are also on board with Iceland. Sylvia Halfdanardottir notched a double-double in a 71-65 win against Ireland at the FIBA U18 European Championships last year with Elin Hrafnkelsdottir also making an impression.
With American's dominating the All-Icelandic League Awards in 2016, Gunnhildur Gunnarsdottir proved her worth at shooting guard with a spot on the All-Domestic Players Team for league and cup champions Snaefell. All squad members play their club basketball in Iceland.
Aine McKenna PG 1.76m
Sarah Woods SG 1.76m
Casey Grace PF 1.82m
Claire Rockall SG 1.80m
Amy Waters PF 1.80m
Grainne Dwyer PF 1.80m
Danielle O'Leary PG 1.76m
Michelle Clarke SG 1.77m
Sinead Deegan PG 1.76m
Aine O'Connor PF 1.82m
Aoife McDermott C 1.84m
Claire Melia C 1.98m
Coaches: Mark Scannell (Head Coach), Paul Kelleher (Assistant Coach), Francis O'Sullivan (Assistant Coach), Grace O'Sullivan (Team Manager)
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