New season, new challenges

Meteors' Eimear Martin and Keane's SuperValu Killorglin'sAndrew Fitzgerald show their shooting skills at yesterday's National League season launch and Hula Hoops National Cupdraw at the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght, Dublin.

Men’s Premier League champions C&S UCC Demons face a difficult opening game in their quest to retain their title, when they travel to Dublin tomorrow to play Templeogue.

Templeogue are one of the big beneficiaries from the break up of Dublin Inter with point guard Mazvydas Cepliauskas and Aurimas Statkus joining them and their experience will be a huge boost to them. Coach Mark Keenan will have more experience at his disposal with the additions of Michael Bonaparte from Neptune, and former senior international Paul Cummins who last played with Belfast Star in 2013. The big doubt for Templeogue is Jason Killeen who is a few weeks away from full fitness, but they have retained the services of Irish international Conor Grace.

Demons lost their stalwart captain Shane Coughlan who announced his retirement in the summer, but have added the former Neptune star Roy Downey to their squad.

Killester lost Michael Westbrooks, but new coach Brian O’Malley will be confident his young side will overcome Moycullen who welcome back Cian Nihill and Patrick Lyons. UCD Marian are another team hoping to make a serious challenge for silverware this season, they should have too much firepower for Belfast Star who lost the Quinn brothers Conor and Aidan to American scholarships.

Premier League newcomers Eanna have an interesting all-Dublin clash against Swords Thunder who have signed an array of players in their bid to win the championship. Thunder were trophy contenders across all competitions last season, but roster changes mean their credentials for the 2015/2016 season remain unproven. The signs are good for Thunder as head coach Dave Baker has brought in players from the USA, Romania, Ukraine and England.

New season, new challenges

UL Eagles coach Paul Kelleher has convinced former stalwart Robert Lynch to come out of two-year exile, to bolster his young team, and will be hoping to get off to a winning start against DCU Saints.

In the Women’s Premier League, champions Team Montenotte begin with a home game against UL Huskies. Montenotte coach Mark Scannell has signed Chantelle Alford from Boston University in his bid to lead the Cork club to their third consecutive title.

“Many of the teams have raised the bar this season, but we have had a good preseason and are looking forward to our opening league game against UL Huskies,” Scannell said.

Killester host Liffey Celtics, while DCU Mercy will be wary of their trip to a Wildcats team now coached by former Waterford Crystal Men’s coach Michael Evans. Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell will give a home debut to Canadian Kaylee Kilpatrick for their clash with Dublin outfit Meteors.


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