They should have spent the week celebrating. Basking in the glory of securing the league. Letting off steam ahead of the Champions Trophy.
But UL Eagles surprise loss to UCD Marian last week, just a few hours after UCC Demons had handed them the league on a plate, means they must remain focused.
One win from the next two games secures them the regular season Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague title so the prospect of facing bottom club Dublin Inter — who have lost 12 of the 17 games they’ve played in their debut year — is surely a welcoming one.
“We are definitely not looking past Friday night,” insisted a cautious Eagles head coach Mark Keenan, who will lead out his charges again the following day at home against Bord Gáis Neptune.
“We are bitterly disappointed that we didn’t finish things last weekend but even by Monday at training, the mood was good in the team. There is no such thing as waiting until Saturday and trying to win the league at home. We want to win it Friday night and we’ll be gunning to get it there and then.”
The reason for his vigilance? Should they fail to rise to the occasion tonight, they will need to beat cup champions Neptune tomorrow while UCC Demons play DCU Saints on Sunday.
Simple and straightforward, right?
It’s anything but for the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, where the play-off teams will be decided this weekend. The top six will advance but it remains to be seen in what order. While UL Huskies and Team Montenotte Hotel have already secured the first and second seed and byes to the semi-finals, only third-placed DCU Mercy out of the quarter-final bound teams are assured of their seeding. Several different scenarios could leave WIT Wildcats, Ulster Rockets or Meteors anywhere between fourth and sixth.
The task is plainest for Wildcats, who will know a win against Killester in Clontarf would assure fourth place. However, as head coach John Hayes knows, earning a win versus Killester in Clontarf is never a simple affair.
“We played them there last year and it was a double overtime game that left me shaking so much I could barely text the result afterwards when we eventually won it,” says Hayes.
“It’s a huge game for us because we really want that home quarter-final and a chance to fill the house down in Waterford. We are trying to build this club back up to where we were a few years back and a home play-off game would be a big boost for that.”
Meanwhile, Brunell have already been awarded three points by a forfeiture of Sunday’s scheduled clash from Liffey Celtics.
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