Neptune set up Killester showdown

AFTER a period in the doldrums, Bord Gais Neptune find themselves back in familiar territory following their 90-88 semi-final victory over UL Eagles that qualifies them for a showdown with champions, 11890 Killester, in next weekend’s NIVEA for MEN SuperLeague final at headquarters.

While they had an early season victory over Eagles, Pat Price’s side travelled to the University Arena as underdogs following two subsequent reversals.

And coach Price was understandably elated by Neptune’s performance and highlighted his side’s focus as a key factor in victory.

“We are thrilled, Limerick is a tough place to go,” he said.

“This is the result of the momentum that has been happening. I have spoken about the importance of consistency and since January we have been playing better basketball.”

Neptune trailed by six points at half time but showed great resolve to turn the deficit around with heroic displays from the likes of Ger Noonan, who contributed 11 points in the third quarter, and Michael Bonaparte, whose accuracy from the free throw line was critical in the closing stages.

“A lot of our key players have had a better second half to the season,” Pat Price said. “Part of what we are is that we are not overly reliant on any one man. I have great belief in the squad. The club has had some great challenges and for us to be in a final in the second year of this programme is exceptional.

“Killester are the team to beat in the SuperLeague. They have a very good coach in Mark Keenan. They have big game experience and they are not going to give up the trophy lightly.”

And the champions, 11890 Killester, return to the National Basketball Arena on the back of a devastating 96-67 semi-final win at home to Belfast Star coach, Mark Keenan, singling out experience as the key factor in their triumph.

“They put it up to us in the first half,” he said.

“It was a tight game at half time but I was keen to stress to the lads at half time that we had what we needed to win. We had a number of huge performances from some of the lads. It’s great that we came through as a team.”

“There will be no complacency on our part (against Neptune). They have pushed us hard in the past and we know that if we are not on our game we’ll be caught out.”

And there will be a familiar look about the women’s SuperLeague

final after champions, TeamMontenotte Hotel Cork, hit form at precisely the right moment with a 75-71 semi-final win to deprive cup champions, DCU Mercy, of a shot at the double.

Speedy Claire Rockall produced another big scoring display with 26 points to raise Montenotte spirits after Marie Breen had been forced to pull out of the game with injury.

“It was an amazing effort considering we lost Marie (Breen) before the game,” Montenotte coach, Mark Scannell, said. “I was very annoyed that we were trailing at the break considering the way we had played but this is as good as it gets.”

UL will provide a huge challenge in the final after they overwhelmed Black Forge Oblate Dynamos 72-30 in the other semi-final.

“I am delighted to get to the final,” UL coach, James Weldon, said.

“It has been a long hard season but the players deserve huge credit. We are excited at the prospect of next week’s final and I believe we will be the underdogs as it is a while since we have been at this stage.”

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