Fr Mathews chase history as Celtics eye grand slam

John Coughlan Basketball

Fr Mathews chase history as Celtics eye grand slam

Fr Mathews chase history when the face Courtyard Liffey Celtics in the Women’s Champions Trophy final at DCU on Sunday.

A victory would secure the Cork club their first silverware in their debut season in the top flight of Irish basketball.

Coach James Fleming is confident they can finish on the campaign on a high: “We have had a very encouraging debut season and the players are ready to put their bodies on the line to win this championship.”

The Cork side defeated DCU Mercy in the semi-final as their mean defence restricted the Dublin outfit to a mere 37 points and Fleming will hope for more of the same against the experienced Celtics.

He will look to the Dwyer sisters — Gráinne and Niamh — along with the impressive American pairing of Shannon Brady and Chantelle Alford to drive them to glory.

But it wouldn’t be easy against a Kildare outfit chasing a silverware grand slam following the League and Cup double. Coach Mark Byrne said: “It’s not going to be easy but we have great camaraderie and the players are keenly looking forward to this final.”

Celtics lost American Breana Green (knee injury) in their last league game of the season against UCC Glanmire but coach Byrne hopes they can overcome that disadvantage.

He said: “Breana is a huge loss to us but our other American Allie LeClaire is a class act and with some very good Irish players we will not be found wanting.”

In the Men’s Champions Trophy final Templeogue and Belfast Star go head to head on Sunday. The northerners looked serious title contenders before the Christmas break but a bad run in January ended those ambitions.

Coach Adrian Fulton said: “We are back playing some decent basketball and although we are underdogs going into this final I do feel we have a chance if we find our rhythm early in the game.”

The mood in the Templeogue camp is also positive and coach Mark Keenan knows his team “will have to be at it in defence over four quarters” if they are to claim the crown.

Meanwhile, Neptune coach Paul Kelleher has stepped down following their relegation from the Men’s Super League after a midweek loss to Dublin Lions (79-70).

Kelleher said: “It’s my lowest time in basketball and despite some very good performances it wasn’t to be for us and many thanks to my players for their commitment throughout the season.”

However, Kelleher isn’t leaving the club and takes up the role as director of basketball where he will oversee and develop their coaches.

A club release read: “The challenge now for the club is to produce highly qualified coaches as well as Super League calibre players to come through the underage ranks to compete at the highest level of Irish basketball.

“We look forward to watching Paul’s unique enthusiasm for development, to nourish the underage section of our club and continue the tradition of Neptune’s position as a standard bearer for underage basketball.”

Meanwhile the Basketball Ireland 2018/19 All Star teams were announced yesterday. The All Stars were voted for by coaches in each division of the National League.

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