National League

Mar 28 2024

Preview: Final Four time in Super League

It’s final four weekend in the Super League, following a pulsating weekend of basketball at the quarter-final stage. Killester and Maree will have home advantage against UCC Demons and Griffith College Éanna respectively. 

Killester put in an early contender for performance of the weekend by ousting the defending champions Irish Guide Dogs Ballincollig@MTU on their home floor, but they were arguably surpassed by UCC Demons when they took down Belfast Star in overtime on Sunday afternoon to set up a trip to North Dublin.

“There was a lot of off court attention around the Belfast game, so it was huge motivation for us to go and beat them again,” said UCC Demons head coach Danny O’Mahony. “This weekend will be a much tougher test if you ask me. Killester are much more of a unit with multiple scoring options in Harrell, Adon, Dick & Simons.

“They have one of the best coaches in the league in Johnny Grennell, so for us it’s about producing this undefeated knockout basketball again and take us one step closer to winning the double,” he added. 

The only previous meeting between the sides this season was a 92-73 win for Killester on the road in December. That result was before UCC Demons managed to sign Elijah Tillman, though. Tillman has since proved instrumental to their Pat Duffy Cup success and also came up big with a 30-point, 17 rebound double-double against Belfast Star.  He continues to prove a tough matchup for anybody in the country and that’ll be no different against Killester.

Killester can also point to the introduction of a new signing since that encounter in the form of Troy Simons. Simons came in at the end of January to compliment Kason Harrell and he has been extremely effective in taking some of the scoring burden on his shoulders. He also allows more space on the floor for shooters like Paul Dick and Gregorio Adon to make their mark on defences.

“UCC Demons are an incredible side. The fear no one and believe in themselves like very few teams I've seen before,” said Johnny Grennell. “Elijah Tillman is an absolute problem inside and he's got great support in the front court with Lehane and Tala. They can really change styles quickly. Kyle, Woods, Beckhom and the Hannigans are such competitors and complement each other so well in the half court and in transition.”

The majority of teams will struggle to match their quickness when playing without a traditional big man, but between Seventh Woods, David Lehane, James Beckom, James Hannigan and Kyle Hosford, it’ll be intriguing to see who gets which assignment on Saturday night. 

Waiting in the final will be either Maree BC or Griffith College Éanna following a repeat of the Pat Duffy Cup final of a year ago. The Galway side came out on top on that occasion, but a semblance of revenge was taken by the Dubliners when they defeated Maree 79-62 in Rathfarnham just three weeks ago.

“When we were up in Dublin, we couldn’t hit water if we fell out of a boat,” said Maree BC head coach Charlie Crowley. “They’ve got firepower in every department and makes them extremely tough to play against. We’ve got a lot of work to do to elevate to that level, but we’ve been written off against Éanna before and I imagine our supporters will look forward to giving them a good Galway welcome.” 

“We’re obviously happy to be in the semi-finals. We had to be at our best against Sligo and it’ll require that performance and even more if we want to even have a chance against Éanna.”

Maree boast a strong home record having not lost in the Kingfisher since opening day against Ulster University, though Griffith College Éanna are adept at grinding out road wins, Darren McGovern’s charges are 7-1 away from Coláiste Éanna this campaign.

“Our recent win over Maree counts for nothing now,” said Éanna head coach Darren McGovern.  “Both teams are where they expect to be at this stage of the season. They have brought in some great talent and it'll be another gigantic test for us. We've stuck together through a tough season, really developing into a side that can deliver in big games. It's about consistency now. We need to stick to the plan and play for each other.”

Both squads have variety in their scoring, with four or five players capable of hitting double digits if given enough looks. The battle between James Gormley and Zvonomir Cutuk beneath the rim figures to be an important factor in this one, as the volume of second chance points will be crucial.

You can watch both games live on Super Fixtures

Saturday, March 30th

1900| Maree BC v Griffith College Éanna, Calasanctius College

1915| Killester v UCC Demons, IWA Clontarf