There will not be an empty seat tonight at the Neptune Stadium when Bord Gais Neptune and UCC Demons clash in the Men’s SuperLeague National cup semi-final.
This derby game rates as one of the most intense rivalries in Irish sport that stems back to 1966.
Demons have dominated the last 23 clashes with 20 wins but Neptune Mark Scannell hopes the trend is about to change.
“We played them twice this season and lost by a basket on each occasion and on another day results could have gone our way,” Scannell said.
“This is the most important game in my coaching career and I am hoping my players rise to the challenge.”
Demons stalwart, captain Shane Coughlan, in his 15th season playing SuperLeague, has tried to keep focus.
“At times people get carried away with this derby because my philosophy is we are trying to get to another national cup final and Neptune happen to be our opponents,” he said.
Coughlan believes that, this season, his team have played well below the standard they are capable.
“Its great we are leading the SuperLeague but nothing beats the magic of this championship,” added Coughlan.
Demons have no injury worries with Niall Murphy ready to take his place on the bench. The Blackpool side are also at full strength.
UL Eagles will be hot favourites to win the second semi-final against UCD Marian following news their American Robert Taylor is fit to play.
Taylor picked up a slight ankle strain against Moycullen but coach Mark Keenan is happy his ace player has recovered. “Robert is a fast healer and he came through a training session on Wednesday but despite the favourites tag this will be a tough encounter,” Keenan said.
UCD Marian will give a debut to 6’ 10’’ American Thomas Vigilianco and coach Fran Ryan is excited about their latest recruit.
“Thomas will hopefully give us the strength we will need to curb the threat of Jason Killeen,” Ryan said.
NATIONAL CUP SEMI-FINAL
Men’s SuperLeague National Cup semi-final: UCC Demons v Bord Gais Neptune, 7pm; UL Eagles v UCD Marian, 9pm.
U18 Men’s semi-final: Neptune v Moycullen, 10am; St Vincent’s v Belfast Star, noon.
Men’s semi-final: Team Garvey’s St Marys v Killester, 2pm; Blue Demons v St. Brendan’s, 4pm.
Women’s SuperLeague semi-final: UL Huskies v WIT Wildcats, 6pm; DCU Mercy v Team Montenotte Hotel Cork, 8pm.
U18 Women’s semi-final: Brunell v Oblate Dynamos, 10am; DCU Mercy (Dublin) v Glanmire (Cork), noon.
Senior Women’s semi-final: NUIG Mystics v Oblate Dynamos, 2pm; Tralee Imperials v Team Tom McCarthy’s St Marys, 4pm.
U20 Men’s semi-final: Belfast Star v Killester, 10.30am; Templeogue Azzurri v Ballincollig, 12.30pm.
U20 Women’s semi-final: Meteors v Brunell, 10.30am; DCU Mercy v Killester, 12.30pm.
- In tomorrow’s Big Interview Kieran Shannon talks to UL Eagles coach Mark Keenan.
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