O’Donoghue eager to end Eagles’ reign

It’s a friendship that will firmly be parked outside the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght tomorrow night.

An intriguing subplot to Friday night’s women’s Superleague basketball final (6.45pm) sees UL coach James Weldon come up against his long-time friend, former team-mate and fellow Killarney native, Cormac O’Donoghue, head coach of Team Montenotte Cork.

But there will be no room for emotion or sentiment, as Weldon’s all-conquering charges — currently on a 34-game winning streak that stretches back to December 4, 2010 — are odds-on to defeat O’Donoghue’s improving Cork side for a fourth time this season.

“We know each other pretty well and we probably know each other too well for this weekend. We probably both think we know what the other fella is thinking. But come Friday we won’t care who we are coaching against, we will both be trying to win a game,” explained O’Donoghue.

Weldon first introduced O’Donoghue to the coaching side of basketball, with both men having previously played Superleague and Division 1 together with Killarney in the 1990s.

With both coaches’ résumés also recording a spell each in charge of St Paul’s senior ladies team, O’Donoghue remarked: “Our paths have crossed and we have taken the same path a number of times.”

Weldon added: “I learned a lot from Cormac when I was a player and we have shared a lot of ideas on the coaching side of things as well.”

But O’Donoghue admitted his Cork team are up against it in tomorrow night’s women’s Superleague final against a UL team that has forgotten how to lose.

“They are raging hot favourites. We have lost four games this season and three of those were to UL — twice in the league and once in the cup — so we know how tough a task we have. To go that many games unbeaten is phenomenal. I am just hoping that we can be the one to end that,” said O’Donoghue.

Weldon, however, feels his UL team — on course for the treble — has the right mind-set for this final game of what has been the perfect season.

“Confidence comes from what you put into it, and I believe we are the hardest working team in the country. The players get the confidence from the countless hours they have put in,” Weldon said.

“We haven’t been beaten at home in two full seasons — the game we lost last year was on the road — and we wear it as a badge of honour. But we take each game as it comes because I am sure it will have to come to an end at some stage, hopefully not on Friday night though.”


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