National Cup

National Cup
Nov 04 2022

Defending champions face stiff beginnings as National Cup kicks into gear

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and The Address UCC Glanmire begin the defence of their Pat Duffy and Paudie O’Connor National Cup crowns in starkly contrasting form.  

The Kerry team have endured a bumpy start to the Men’s Super League season, picking up one win from their first five games.  Head coach John Dowling is hopeful their hard work of recent weeks pays off against semi-finalists from a year ago, DBS Éanna on Saturday evening.

‘Ourselves and DBS Éanna just seemed to be destined to meet in the cup at some stage,’ said Dowling. ‘We are very happy our group of players, we have been working very hard over the last few weeks and we’re hoping this weekend that hard work pays off,’ he added.

His opposite number in Dublin, Darren McGovern is full of respect for what Dowling has achieved.

‘It's an exciting match up for sure. Garvey’s Tralee Warriors are the champions. We are improving week to week with the changes on our squad and I'm pleased with how we are dealing with it. John Dowling is a fantastic coach and they’ve has great experience on their panel. We have to dig deep, stay in the game and make it as challenging as possible for them,’ said McGovern.

Mark Scannell’s The Address UCC Glanmire have picked up where they left off in last season’s Women’s Super League. They bounced back from their only defeat of the campaign by beating the previously undefeated Singleton SuperValu Brunell. The perfect tonic as they attempt to capture their 9th Paudie O’Connor cup title.

‘The cup is a great tournament which we’ve had huge success in. We’ll look to call on our experience in those tight situations on Saturday and hopefully get the right result. We must improve on our recent displays, especially defensively if we get that side of our game right, we could be a really good group,’ Scannell said.

Their opposition come in the form of Trinity Meteors, for whom head coach Niall Berry says this is a ‘massive’ game in their season.

‘For a cup game, it’s never about taking any steps forward in developing as a team. You’re either ready or you’re not and our job is to do all we can to be ready to compete and try to come out with the result we want,’ added Berry.

Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics and the aforementioned Singleton SuperValu Brunell meet in the weekend’s other opening Paudie O’Connor cup contest. Despite the gap between both team’s Super League standing, Singleton SuperValu Brunell head coach Liam Culloty is taking the 2018/19 champions for granted.

‘Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics are a very strong team, especially at home. They have a deep squad with some fantastic Irish players. We will have to improve on aspects of our performance last week. We know it will be a very tough challenge, but we are definitely up for it,’ Culloty said.

Griffith College Templeogue have an excellent recent history with the Pat Duffy Cup, winning the 2017/18 and 2019/20 editions. Mark Keenan will be looking for a similar spark as they travel to face Belfast Star. Keenan is relishing the coaching matchup with his assistant coach at international level, Adrian Fulton.

‘The cup competition always throws up some exciting matchups and heading to Belfast certainly throws up a tough task for us. We will have to play our best in order to come away with a win. A challenge that we will relish and are excited about,’ Keenan quipped.

For his part, Belfast Star head coach Adrian Fulton is disappointed that Griffith College Templeogue’s Irish international Lorcan Murphy will miss out through injury. ‘Such a shame for the fans that Lorcan Murphy is unavailable as he is a terrific talent and great fun to watch,’ said Fulton.

'Griffith College Templeogue are always formidable opposition with a great cup pedigree. They really impressed me a few weeks ago. They have multiple threats across all positions. Our lads have been working extremely hard and have a chance to be a very good team if we continue to play together,’ he added.

Elsewhere there’s a fascinating Cork derby between Energywise Ireland Neptune and UCC Demons. A rematch from the opening week of the National League season in which Energywise Ireland Neptune edged out their opponents by a single point. Their head coach Colin O’Reilly is excited by the prospect of another full house in Neptune Stadium.

‘Cup competitions always provide great games, so we are preparing physically and mentally for as many ‘what if?’ scenarios as possible. We are starting to find our identity as a team so hoping for another performance Saturday that’s an improvement from previous weeks.’

It echoes the thoughts of UCC Demons head coach Daniel O’Mahony, who led the team to Presidents Cup glory in 2021/22.

‘We lost the last time out by a single point, both us and Energywise Ireland Neptune have been making improvements since. We will need to be at our best again for 40 minutes to compete.’ O’Mahony said.

Another meeting of in-form teams sees University of Galway Maree play Flexachem KYCMS. The Galway side came out on top in their National League meeting, something on the mind of Killorglin’s head coach Declan Wall.

‘We played them in the league a few weeks back and they are a really talented team. We will need to be at our best to compete with their intensity. We feel we are as strong this year, as all the other teams around us and working this week in practice to make few small adjustments to hopefully get us over the line in these tight games we have lost in previous weeks.’

University of Galway Maree’s young head coach Charlie Crowley has sympathy for his counterpart and their defeat last weekend.

‘I would imagine they feel they had done enough to get over the line against Emporium Cork Basketball last Saturday. The cup is a new competition, everyone starts with a fresh record. Looking forward to bringing high level Irish basketball back to Oranmore village on Saturday night.’

The remaining two games in the opening round of the Pat Duffy Cup are Emporium Cork Basketball against Moycullen, who's head coach John Cunningham is lamenting the injury bug suffered by his side: 

“Normally, I’d be looking forward to the break from league play and a real shot at a first-round cup game. However, with the run of injuries we’re having, all that’s on my mind is who’s back when. When Jimmy Lyons went down in the warmup on Sat, it just about summed up the season so far. There are always positives though and it’s been great to see some guys step up to the added responsibility the situation has thrown at them. Joe Tummon has shown real on-court leadership, Dara Kenna gave a great 30 mins of effort last week Jimmy and James Connaire were both going well until their setbacks and Dylan has rolled back the years a bit. Our defence has been pretty good under the circumstances but we’re way off the mark at the other end. Facing Ballincollig in Cork is not the draw you’d want in those circumstances, but we accept where we stand and are working hard to bridge the gap until we get closer to full strength.”

Meanwhile Emporium Cork Basketball, led by Ciaran O'Sullivan are taking this challenge complete on its individual merits: 

“The Cup brings a different atmosphere to the games and we look forward to playing in front of our home fans for the first time in this competition. We are playing well and hoping to continue this trend on Saturday against Moycullen.”

Bright St. Vincents' Josko Srzic has sent out a rallying cry to his troops after a disappointing loss in the Super League in the last round of fixture. He said it was a good time for a reality check for his players:

“It is a cup home game next against good Sligo team. After our very disappointing league performance last weekend, when our players thought they can just show up to the game and win, reality check came at the right moment. Cup games are always different and we have to come and be ready to fight this time.”

EJ Sligo All-Stars reached the semi-finals of the Presidents Cup last season. Shane O'Meara is seeking another strong performance from his team in a knockout competition:

“We had a very disappointing end to the game in Belfast and know that playing away brings its own dimension to a game sometimes. We need to be more clinical at times and put ourselves in a stronger position to get over the line. We are looking forward to a fast paced, exciting game on Saturday against Bright St. Vincents.”

Presidents' and Women's Division 1 National Cup also begin this weekend and there are some mouthwatering matchups if league form is anything to go by. 

In the President's Cup, finalists from a year ago Drogheda Wolves meet SETU Waterford Vikings. There's a very exciting clash between Moy Tolka Rovers and Limerick Sport Eagles, both of whom will see this as a strong chance of silverware and there's a lengthy trip for Ulster University who are in Killarney to take on the hometown Cougars. Elsewhere Portlaoise meet Team North West, Dwyers of Cork Fr. Mathews play Malahide and Scotts Lakers Killarney and Abbey Seals Dublin Lions face off. Last season's other semi-finalists SETU Carlow have a bye along with last eight finishing Limerick Celtics. 

The Women's National Cup is an equally compelling prospect. Unbeaten in the Division 1, McEvoy's Cavan Eagles will have to wait to make their cup bow as they receive a bye, along with Moy Tolka Rovers and St. Paul's Killarney. The nation's other unbeaten team, Portlaoise Panthers make thr trip to Inchicore to face Oblate Dynamos in the opening round. Beaten semi-finalists in 2021/22, Swords Thunder welcome Phoenix Rockets to North Dublin.  There's a Dublin derby between GRiffith College Templeogue and Abbey Seals Dublin Lions, SETU Carlow travel to Limerick Celtics and another last four particpant from last season, Limerick Sport Huskies host Marble City Hawks. 

There is something for everyone on National Cup opening weekend. Pat Duffy Cup

Saturday, November 5th

1600|Emporium Cork Basketball v Moycullen, Ballincollig CS

1700|DBS Éanna v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors, Coláiste Éanna

1830|Energywise Ireland Neptune v UCC Demons, Neptune Stadium

1830|Belfast Star v Griffith College Templeogue, De La Salle

1900|University of Galway Maree v Flexachem KCYMS, Calasanctus College

1900|Bright St. Vincents v EJ Sligo All-Stars, St. Vincents, Glasnevin. Paudie O’Connor Cup

Saturday, November 5th

1530|The Address UCC Glanmire v Trinity Meteors, Neptune Stadium

1900|Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics v Singleton SuperValu Brunell, Leixlip Amenities Centre Presidents Cup

Saturday, November 5th

1700|Dwyers of Cork Fr. Mathews v Malahide, Fr. Mathews Arena

1800|Moy Tolka Rovers v Limerick Sport Eagles, Tolka Rovers SC

1915|Killarney Cougars v Ulster University, Presentation Gym

1930|Drogheda Wolves v SETU Waterford Vikings, Ballymakenny College

1930|Scotts Lakers SPK v Abbey Seals Dublin Lions, Killarney Sports & Leisure

2015|Portlaoise Panthers v Team North West, St. Mary’s Hall Portlaoise Women’s Division 1 National Cup

Saturday, November 5th

1700|Limerick Sport Huskies v Marble City Hawks, St. Munchins

1730|Swords Thunder v Phoenix Rockets, ALSAA

1900|Oblate Dynamos v Portlaoise Panthers, Oblate Hall

1915|Abbey Seals Dublin Lions v Griffith College Templeogue, Coláiste Bride

Sunday, November 6th

1630|Limerick Celtics v SETU Carlow, Crescent College