Battle of the giants at Belfield

Another huge weekend in the Men’s Super League as all the leading contenders are in action, with the leading pair, Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and UCD Marian, going head-to-head at Belfield.

Battle of the giants at Belfield

Marian looked to have the title within grasp a fortnight ago but consecutive defeats to DCU Saints and Killester blew the race wide open with five teams now capable of landing the championship.

Marian got their campaign back on track last night with a convincing 72-46 win over Eanna.

But the Warriors are certainly making a bold bid and coach Mark Bernsen believes the side with the required hunger could well do the business.

“We have given ourselves a realistic chance, but I am sure the UCD Marian game will test the credentials of both sides.”

Bernsen added: “We have to concentrate on our own game as playing UCD Marian on their home court is a serious challenge but one I am confident my players will embrace it.”

Said Marian’s Scott Kinevane: “Tralee seem to be the in-form team. Their ‘floor general’ Trae Pemberton has had an impressive start to 2018, so containing him, and the battle on the boards, will be key in this game.”

Added Tralee coach Bernsen: “We’re going to have to look in the mirror and figure out if we can handle it.

"There are five teams knocking on the door for the league title, so this is going to be a very challenging month, and one of the most important ones is this Saturday against Marian.”

Griffith College Swords Thunder are back in the mix and coach Dave Baker will be hoping they can continue playing the brand of basketball they have produced in the last month when they entertain Moycullen at the Alsaa.

Thunder have serious firepower in their squad and coach Baker is remaining calm despite the pressure descending on all the title contenders.

Baker said: “The bottom line is we take it one game at a time and if the results drop right for us we will have a major say on the destiny of the title.”

Killester fresh from their win over UCD Marian will be confident they can get maximum points when they play Maree at Oranmore.

Cup champions Templeogue are another side with an outside chance of league glory and they will feel confident when they host Belfast Star.

The Dublin side is presently in a good frame of mind, according to coach Mark Keenan.

“I think we are braced for an interesting few weeks but all our concentration is totally on getting maximum points against Star.”

Kubs are still seeking their first win as they get ready for a Dublin derby against DCU Saints whose inconsistency this season has baffled coach Joey Boylan.

Boylan said: “I cannot criticise the players because many of them are playing at this level for the first time, and I am hoping lessons be learned going forward.”

In the Women’s Super League cup champions, DCU Mercy are in Cork Sunday for a clash with Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell.

The Cork side — minus Amy Waters, Maddie Ganser, Rebecca Lyall, and Alex Macheta — lost to leaders Liffey Celtics last weekend but coach Francis O’Sullivan is hoping the returning players will help them pose DCU Mercy problems.

“We will need a season best if we are to get a result from this game.”

The mood in the DCU Mercy camp is positive but coach Mark Ingle is cautious playing Brunell on their home court.

“Brunell are always a difficult side as they play with so much passion and we will have to be prepared to roll up our sleeves and battle.”

Killester should take maximum points when they host basement side NUIG Mystics at Clontarf with leaders Liffey Celtics facing a tricky road game against WIT Wildcats.

There is a crucial game in the race for the Men’s Division One title as leaders Killorglin travel to play Ballincollig tomorrow.

The Cork side, who cannot afford to lose, welcome back Ronan O’Sullivan who is now based in England after taking up a new job.

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