Neptune Stadium hosted a InsureMyVan.ie Super League season-opening derby and it went down to the wire between Energywise Ireland Neptune and UCC Demons.
A pair of Jordan Evans free throws at the end closed out the narrowest of victories, 92-91 for the hosts. Evans finished with a 27-point haul, including six converted from the arc.
Nil Sabata had 26 points, while Ireland international Jordan Blount, on his Superleague debut, scored 19.
Player/coach Colin O’Reilly was relieved afterwards. “Nice result in a game that had pre-season quality, with the emotions of a derby game. The foul count did not help either team get into a flow and it was a case at the end of who could get important stops, as the offence disappeared. We move on now with the relief that pre-season is finally over and get into the rhythm of three sessions and a game every week.”
Gregory Poleon scored a mightily impressive 40 points, including five three-pointers, as EJ Sligo All-Stars made a winning return to the league, thanks to their 93-82 road success at last season’s North Conference winners, DBS Éanna.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors were narrow 105-103 overtime winners against Flexachem KCYMS in a thrilling local derby. The home side had Daniel Jokubaitis to thank, his two point jump shot with just five seconds to go brought it level at 93 apiece and forced overtime. The additional five minutes was also tight, it was Garvey’s Tralee Warriors’ summer signing De’Ondre Jackson’s driving layup with 11 seconds to go which clinched victory. The American, who joined from University of Galway Maree, top scored with 28 points.
John Dowling admitted his side rode their luck. “A nail-biter of a game. Very lucky to get out with a win. Killorgan played some fantastic basketball, but the home crowd helped bring us across the line. Packed complex, a great advertisement for Kerry basketball.”
2020 winners Belfast Star had a 90-67 success against Bright St Vincent’s. Their two Max’s – Richardson and Cooper - had 22 points apiece. There was the welcome return of Aidan Quinn, after a knee injury ruled him out last season, he got through over 20 minutes and picked up 4 points in the process.
Last season’s South Conference winners Emporium Cork Basketball defeated Moycullen 83-49, Killester were 84-82 winners at UCD Marian and University of Galway Maree won 91-70 at Griffith College Templeogue.
The Address UCC Glanmire had a more comfortable opening day, defeating Killester 93-70 at Neptune Stadium. Their two new Americans Brittany Byrd and Khiarica Rasheed caught the eye, with 27 and 15 points respectively.
“Yeah very good start,” said head coach Mark Scannell said, “we played well for the first game of the season. I thought we got great contributions from our bench, which augurs well for the season. Killester are always dogged and hard to put away, but we wore them down, despite the effort of their two very good Americans. Our new additions settled in very well, so a good start, but lots to improve on.” Elsewhere, the highly fancied Trinity Meteors got the better of last season’s Division 1 champions University of Galway Mystics 87-70. It was the clash of two Finns, Hazel picked up 22 points for the Galway club, while sister Dayna had 19. Trinity’s summer signing, Claire Melia, ended on 15.
Waterford Wildcats came up trumps against the other newly promoted club, Ulster University, 81-69. i3PT Fr. Mathews picked a narrow 83-81 road win at Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics, helped by the 29 point contribution of Sydney Candelaria and 21 points from Lilla Szucs.