UCD Marian stalwart Conor Meany wants his team to put the heartbreak of last year’s Men’s Pat Duffy National Cup final defeat to Templeogue behind them when they face Belfast Star in today’s semi-final at the Mardyke Arena (4pm).
A controversial refereeing decision went against UCD in the closing minutes of last year’s decider but Meany wants it consigned to history.
He said: “That chapter is closed as we must now put our sole focus on defeating Belfast Star. The cup is a completely different competition [to the league] to win but we have the players with plenty of class and experience and let’s hope we can do the business on the day.”
The mood in the Star camp is also one of caution as they have been ravaged by injuries after having a sensational start to the campaign.
The second semi-final between Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and Killester is sure to attract a huge attendance to the Mardyke (8pm).
The Kerry side have had two Super League wins and claimed the Castleisland Tournament title since the Christmas period. Kieran Donaghy continues to lead the way for them with Americans Jordan Evans and Keith Jumper also impressive.
The Men’s U20 grade showcases the best up and coming players in this country and Neptune will have home court advantage for the visit of Templeogue in the 10am semi-final.
The Cork side have come through the tough side of the draw after wins over Kubs and Moycullen, with Darragh O’Sullivan and Cian Heaphy two of their standout talents. Neptune coach Kieran Leahy is under no illusions of the task today.
“Templeogue defeated us in last year’s U18 final and have the nucleus of that squad. If both sides produce their best basketball it’s a hard game to call.”
In the other semi-final, Portlaoise Panthers bid to qualify for their first final at this level when they clash with the highly rated Dublin Lions outfit.
In the U18 Men’s semi-finals championship favourites Belfast Star led by the multi-talented C J Fulton should have too much firepower for Portlaoise Panthers. The second semi-final should be another cracking encounter with the highly rated Moycullen facing Dublin Lions.
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig will put their President’s Cup title on the line when they clash with fellow Munster side Limerick Celtics, with IT Carlow and Tolka Rovers in the other semi-final.
Blue Demons, who won the NICC Men’s championship for the past two years, did not enter the team this season but Glasnevin, led by Kevin Foley and Pete Madsen, should see off Presentation College Athenry. Former Neptune star of the ‘80s Gerald Kennedy is head coach of Drogheda Bullets who are pitted against last year’s semi-finalists, B.C Leixlip Zalgris.