Basketball: Scannell admits Montenotte now under pressure

For every ambitious basketball club, the National Cup weekend in January is where it’s at. So when a women’s powerhouse like Glanmire is knocked out of the U18 and U20 competitions in the preliminary rounds, it understandably sets alarm bells ringing around the club.

Basketball: Scannell admits Montenotte now under pressure

Hence defeat for the senior team, and reigning National Cup champions Team Montenotte Hotel tomorrow is unthinkable — especially when local and keen Cork rivals Brunell are the opposition.

Head coach Mark Scannell, the newly appointed national head coach, recognises that his side and his club are in a tight spot.

“The tradition in Glanmire is the cup and this is our only opportunity. For the first time in about ten years, both our U18s and our U20s are out of the cup. There’s huge pressure on us now because we have to make sure that Glanmire are represented, but we can’t underestimate the challenge of Brunell,” he said yesterday.

Singleton SuperValu Brunell coach Kieran O’Leary recognises the importance of the 40 minutes to both clubs. The payback to sponsors is showcasing the brand at the blue riband weekend for the sport in this country.

“It’s down to a local derby,” he said. “Anything can happen. Hopefully it will be a good game of basketball but we’ll have to be at 110% and they’ll have to be below par. We’re not a big scoring team at the moment but if we play defence and keep teams below the 70-point bracket, we’re in with a chance.”

The Cork derby is one of four intriguing quarter-finals in the Premier Women’s National Cup, with the meeting of Killester and DCU Mercy also catching the eye.

When the sides clashed a fortnight ago, Killester came out on top.

DCU coach Mark Ingle believes his side will have to be at their best to reverse the result. “We got back to winning ways last week against Brunell but Killester will be a far tougher challenge on their home court and the key for us will be how we defend against them,” he said.

WIT Wildcats defeated Killester last weekend and should have too much for last year’s finalists UL Huskies.

It is a crucial weekend as the quarter-finals of the Hula Hoops National cups will be completed at various venues around the country.

The top second-leg game in the Men’s Premier National Cup is the clash between Belfast Star and Killester at Clontarf.

Star command a 12-point first-leg lead but Killester welcome back Paul Dick and will be confident of overcoming the northerners on their home court.

For Star coach Neil McCotter, this is a huge game for his club as a win would see them qualify for the final four for the first time in five years.

“We played well against Killester in the first leg but they have home advantage and, with Paul Dick returning, this will be a true test for my side,” said McCotter.

Dick played with Star before signing with a Spanish side that were forced to release him because of an injury picked up in preseason training.

The action begins this evening at the Mardyke Arena where champions C & S UCC Demons host UL Eagles with a comfortable 30-point lead from the first leg.

Injuries to player-coach Colin O’Reilly and Roy Downey rule them out but the former believes his side should be good enough to see off the Shannonsiders.

“We do realise we lost a 30-point lead before in 2013 against UCD Marian and hopefully the guys will not forget that frightening experience,” O’Reilly said.

UCD Marian also look to have done enough against DCU Saints in the first leg as they welcome the Glasnevin side to Belfield.

The winner of this clash will play a quarter-final against the winners of Swords Thunder and Eanna.

UCD Marian captain Conor Meany is urging his players to stay focused on the job in hand.

“We demolished Saints in the first leg but lost to them last week in the league when they introduced a new American signing and we will be wary of the threat they could pose us,” Meany said.

Swords Thunder, beaten semi-finalists last season, have a 19-point lead against Eanna but following last week’s defeat against C & S UCC Demons, coach Dave Baker is looking for huge improvement.

“We had a plan going to Cork and didn’t implement it and in cup basketball you have got to be careful as this Eanna side have nothing to lose,” Baker said.

Liffey Celtics will not be taking Meteors for granted despite having home court advantage at Leixlip.

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