NATIONAL CUP ROUND-UP
EAGLES DUMP HOLDERS UCD OUT OF THE CUP, WHILE NEPTUNE TO FACE DEMONS IN ALL CORK SEMI
UL Eagles ended holders UCD Marian’s Men’s SuperLeague National Cup interests and will now face 11890 Killester in the semi finals, while Bord Gais Neptune and UCC Demons will meet in a potentially explosive semi final after wins over Belfast Star and DCU Saints respectively.
In the Women’s SuperLeague National Cup quarter finals, DCU Mercy’s hopes of a third cup title remain intact after a fine win away to Waterford Wildcats and will now meet 11890 Killester in the last four after their win over Ulster Rockets, while in the other pairing Team Montenotte Hotel will meet UL in an exciting prospect.
UL Eagles Head Coach, Mark Keenan, described it as ‘the biggest win of their season so far’ after his side knocked National Cup holders UCD Marian (72-62) out of this year’s competition and set up a semi final clash with his former club 11890 Killester.
The Eagles looked in command at the break, leading 45-30, but the Students weren’t going to give up their crown too easily and fought back to within seven points after the re-start. However, UL, looking a stronger unit following the arrival of American Robert Taylor, managed to hold onto the lead and book their place in the last four of the competition.
“I’d say it is the biggest win for us this season,” said Eagles Head Coach Mark Keenan. “We played together as a team and Robert Taylor gave us real stability. “It was a huge task to overcome the reigning cup champions particularly on the back of a couple of poor results but we were superb in the second quarter.”
11890 Killester lie await for the Eagles in the semi final and their Head Coach Darren O’Neill was pleased his side managed to negotiate a tricky quarter final clash with Moycullen on a scoreline of 83-69.
Moycullen have been claiming major scalps in league competition this season and threatened to add last season’s beaten cup finalists to that list with the score tied 42-42 at half time. However, a dominant third quarter by the Dubliners and an injury to Moycullen’s American Luke Enos in the fourth sealed their fate.
“This was always going to be a tough one because no matter what we did we would have been expected to win,” said Killester Head Coach Darren O’Neill. “Offensively in the first half we were impressive but defensively we were awful and let them back into the contest.
“We got our act together in the third and one of the most pleasing aspects of the win was that all of the players in the squad scored.”
Bord Gais Neptune Head Coach, Mark Scannell, cut a relived figure after his side escaped from their quarter final clash away to Belfast Star with a win and set up a mouth watering semi final meeting with their fierce rivals UCC Demons.
The Northerners will rue this loss, who were ahead 46-39 at the break, with a poor third quarter playing a huge part in their demise. They did lead heading into the closing seconds but a dramatic late twist saw Neptune’s Ian McLoughlin convert to give Neptune a nervy passage into the semi finals.
“We probably didn’t deserve the win,” said Scannell. “We were very nervous and credit to Belfast Star, who made life very difficult for us.
“Ron (Thompson, who scored 36 points) was probably the difference in the end,” added Scannell. “We will take the win, we were dead and buried at one stage but we got out of jail.”
UCC Demons Head Coach, Paul Kelleher, is relishing a semi final date with his near neighbours Bord Gais Neptune after enjoying a comfortable 89-74 win over DCU Saints.
“It’s going to bring back some great memories after the way recent games have gone and in particular the dramatic nature of the semi final between the sides two years ago,” said Demons Head Coach Paul Kelleher. “It will be a fantastic occasion.
“We didn’t reach the last four last season so It’s a great feeling to be involved this time around.”
There was one game in the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague on Sunday as 11890 Killester rounded off a fantastic weekend by beating UCD Marian 67-52.
The win sees Killester close the gap on Northern Conference leaders DCU Saints to five points with the Dubliners still with a game in hand.
Reigning Women’s SuperLeague Cup champions, DCU Mercy, will face 11890 Killester in the last four after an impressive 78-60 win away to Waterford Wildcats.
Wildcats trailed by 16 points at the break (48-32) and found Mercy in excellent form, with Sarah Woods (26 points) and Shauna O’Connor (18 points) in particularly impressing.
“We played well and did our job well,” said Mercy Head Coach Mark Ingle. “The team was very focused and our two new assistants have come in and done a good job on the defensive end.
“It will be an interesting semi final against a side we have had some good battles with in recent seasons.”
11890 Killester earned their second successive appearance in a National Cup semi final following a 58-43 win at home to Ulster Rockets.
“It is great to advance,” said Killester Head Coach Mark Grennell. “We led from start to finish and were excellent at times particularly in defence. “As a team we worked hard, while there is a lot of room to improve, we will happily take every win.”
Team Montenotte Hotel have maintained their cup pedigree and set up a clash with UL after an 84-60 win away to Meteors.
Meteors always faced an uphill struggle, having to claw back a 41-23 deficit at the break, with Grainne contributing 20 points in the win for the Cork side.
UL transferred their excellent run in the league into the cup as they beat Singleton’s Super Valu Brunell 63-50.
“They got to within nine points of us at one stage and they shot the ball very well,” said said UL Head Coach James Weldon. “They went for it and overall they have been doing really well since they have come up to the top level of league and cup action.”