For those teams looking forward to Cup final duels, this weekend was a delicate balance of keeping players healthy and Superleague momentum on track.
Templeogue just about managed to juggle both priorities in Cork yesterday, as they squeezed out a 105-103 overtime win against UCC Demons at the Mardyke before turning their attention to next Saturday’s blue riband decider against UCD Marian.
But their success over Demons was not without its controversy, with the three-match officials booed off the court by home fans who believed key calls went against them at crucial times of an exhilarating game.
After a sluggish start Demons found their rhythm and a late Colin O’Reilly basket ensured they went in at the half 48-44 in front.
The trend didn’t change in the second half didn’t as the lead changed hands on numerous occasions and at the end of normal time the teams were locked at 92. In a game of high emotion referee David Caballe punished Demons captain Kyle Hosford with a technical foul following an exchange of words after the final buzzer.
On the restart, Templeogue has a free throw and possession that saw them nail it and they followed up with a three-pointer on the possession awarded. Credit to both teams they battled to the wire, but Templeogue were relieved to depart Leeside with maximum points according to coach Mark Keenan.
“It was a game we could have easily lost but I have to say my players once again produced key long-range baskets when we looked in trouble. It was the perfect game before our cup final against UCD Marian but we have some work to do on the training court this week.”
Maree came within a whisker of causing a major shock in the Men’s Super League before going down 83-79 to another side with half an eye on next weekend - leaders UCD Marian.
The Galway outfit produced a season-best and led 64-63 entering the last quarter. The sides were level at 77 points each with two minutes remaining but late free throws from Daniel James secured a hard-earned win for the UCD.
The mood in the UCD Marian camp was naturally one of relief as their man of the match Conor Meany who contributed a game-high 25 points spoke of his delight in securing the win.
“Maree made us work for this win and with the cup final looming next week I think it would have upset our preparations if we hadn’t done the business.”
The mood in the Maree camp was one of disappointment as coach John Finn reflected on his team’s brave performance.
“We gave them a real fright as my lads battled from start to finish and we are really getting used to life in the Super League in our first season competing at this level.”
A stellar 41-point contribution from Trae Pemberton helped Tralee Warriors defeat DCU Saints at the DCU Complex. The Kerry side led 49-42 at the break but in the second half they showed class and ran out comfortable winners much to the delight of coach Mark Bernsen.
“It was a brave performance by the guys and as I said last week if we can get through January unbeaten it will keep our outside title hopes on track.”
Killester produced a solid home performance to easily account for Belfast Star 89-58 with Royce Williams leading their scoring on 21 points.
Galway side Moycullen got back to winning ways when defeating Eanna 74-62.
It was a weekend of shocks in the Women’s Super League with basement side NUIG Mystics breaking their duck and winning a first game of the season, defeating Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell 68-65. The game looked to be heading for overtime but a monstrous Deirdre O’Shea three-pointer secured the points for the westerners.
Killester were on the back of two heavy defeats to Glanmire but they showed true resilience to defeat leaders DCU Mercy 67-65.
Mercy led 36-33 at the break but credit to Killester they continued to play with high intensity and a late Hannah Thornton basket gave the Clontarf outfit a win against all the odds.
Naturally DCU Mercy coach Mark Ingle was bitterly disappointed with a cup final looming against Glanmire next weekend.
“Credit to Killester they played very well and our shots simply didn’t drop and now it’s a case of putting right what we failed to do in this defeat before we play Glanmire.”
Ambassador UCC Glanmire warmed for their cup final with a comfortable 85-58 home win over IT Carlow.
The Cork side, who led 37-20 at the break, could afford to use various rotations as coach Mark Scannell rested star American Ashley Prim.
After the game, coach Scannell praised his troops in the manner they closed it out.
“It was the ideal game to get my fringe players some court time and the good thing is we came through it unscathed and now all our plans are focused on playing DCU Mercy in the cup final.”
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