Two Cup treats to keep an eye on this weekend

Two Cup treats to keep an eye on this weekend

NOISE IN TRALEE

On Saturday...

Take our word for it. At this time of the year, there is no better atmosphere in Irish sport than in the Tralee Sports Complex around 8pm on a Saturday night.

Traffic winds its way down Cloondara estate in Oakpark as punters rush to beat the ‘House Full’ signs. It is the non-pareil of Irish hoops and the only modern-day challenge to the halcyon Hanging From The Rafters era of the ‘80’s.

Donaghy and co promise they’ll put on a show - and they seldom fail to deliver.

Cup nights are extra special, and with the reigning champions Killester in town tomorrow night, with the trap door awaiting one of these two Superleague giants, the Complex will be in a state of frenzy.

Killester come into the game off the back of a disappointing loss against Griffith College Templeogue in the league last Saturday to bring their record this season to 5-5. Despite carrying some injuries, the Dubliners will be hoping to bounce back strong this weekend.

Tralee are in good shape though, with a 7-3 Superleague record, but Pat Price is wary - and with good reason.

“They’re a well-coached, experienced side who have now bolstered their line up with two terrific signings. We’re going to have to play very well from the tip to get past the defending Cup champions.”

Get there early.

GLANMIRE GIRL GOT GAME

On Sunday...

Every once in a while, the word goes around the tight-knit basketball community. There’s a Special One in town. Maybe we should have seen Shrita Parker coming from some way back. Like last January when she was hailed by the US basketball Writers Association as their Collegiate Player Of The Week after a series of standout shooting performances in her senior year with the North Carolina Seahawks. She’d been pulling up trees at Rutgers for three seasons before that, but coming to Ireland was the realisation of a dream. She cried like a baby before she got on the plane here.

“I don’t know if I was crying because I was proud of myself for actually making it, or sad that I was leaving my family, but I feel better now and I’ll talk to them every day.”

She stands 5’7” but moves like the wind, and has the hottest hand in Irish women’s basketball right now. Glanmire coach Mark Scannell has seen talents come and go, and rates the 24-year-old extremely highly. The club had originally identified another American but when that fell through, Glanmire picked up Parker. A kind break.

She possesses a hunger to make every day count, and thanks to basketball, she’s the first person in her family to go to college.

“Actually I’m the first person in my neighbourhood to go to college,” she adds of Virginia Beach on America’s Atlantic coast.

“I just love making my teammates happy. Basketball is fun for me and it keeps me out of trouble.”

Her form spells a different kind of trouble for opponents these days - but Waterford’s Wildcats arrive in Glanmire Sunday (2pm) with their own young guns, Stephanie O’Shea and Debbie Ogayemi confident. It’ll be worth the trip.

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