Cross conference clash for leaders

UCC DEMONS and DART Killester are not just top of their respective conferences in the NIVEA for MEN SuperLeague — both share unbeaten records and that will end after tomorrow night’s clash at the IWA gym in Clontarf where they cross paths for the first time this season.

Even before tip-off, cup champions Killester were on everyone’s lips as the team who could complete the elusive double this season and they have not put a foot wrong.

UCC Demons, however, have that spring in their step again and it brings an aura of confidence to their play which has been evident in every game.

Coach Douglas Leichner appears to have the right blend of home-grown talent and American finesse at his disposal. The local players may be the key to the destination of the trophies this season and Neptune coach Stephen McCarthy was lavishing praise on Demon’s home-grown talent after the early season derby game.

“We must be ready for DART Killester’s variety of defences,” coach Leichner insisted. “Their coach (Mark Keenan) does a great job of mixing full court and half-court zone and man defensive schemes. We must recognise the defence and then aggressively attack what they give us.”

Abrakebabra Tigers, the champions, must see their title drifting away from them after back-to-back losses to DCU Saints and Limerick Lions last weekend and the shock departure of coach Mark Bernsen.

Assistant coach, Kevin O’Donoghue, a former player with the SuperLeague team, will be in charge until a replacement coach is named next week and Secretary Jackie Collins reports a lot of positives from the camp.

“Kevin will be in charge this weekend and he knows the players well,” she said. “It has been a very traumatic time for the club but these things happen and you just have to get on with it.

“As regards a coach we are talking to a number of Americans and we would hope to have a replacement signed for next week’s game against DART Killester.”

They can’t expect any favours tomorrow night with Hoops hungry for the points and coach Ahmad Smith confident that they are on the brink of a big breakthrough.

“After the UCC game, we came out very flat,” he said. “It was just a bad game but our guys have been in the gym to correct our mistakes and we realise we have to come up to play with a better mentality.”

Neptune will have Mick McGinn back for Sunday afternoon’s game with UCD Marian which will be played at the Parochial Hall, Gurranabraher. Their new American was impressive last weekend when they lost to Belfast Star but they gave away too many scores.

“Defensively we were not good,” coach Stephen McCarthy admitted. “We addressed that during the week and I would like to think there will be a big improvement.”

Limerick Lions had an important win over Tigers last weekend and their coach, Sasa Punosevac, wants more of the same from the clash with Ulster Elks.

“We have to win if we want to keep a good spirit in the team before our cup game. I am happy with how we played our last five games except the UCD game.”

In Basketball Ireland’s Women’s Superleague, champions Team Montenotte Hotel welcome Meteors to Little Island, while DART Killester will be looking to put a halt to their losing run at home to UL Aughinish.

Waterford Wildcats’ season is in better shape after signing US star Melanie Thomas who is sure to play a big role in tomorrow night’s clash with league newcomers LeisureWorld Churchfield Iona.

LeisureWorld Churchfield Iona have added an extra dimension to the Women’s Superleague and this week they were awarded a prestigious Texaco sports bursary worth €5,000.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” PRO Mary White said. “This is our first year competing at SuperLeague and the fact that Texaco believed in us out of hundreds of applications is tremendous.”


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