National League

National League
Nov 18 2021 Super League and Division 1 preview

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig coach Kieran O’Sullivan says their contest with DBS Éanna will be “one of our toughest of the year without doubt”. The Cork club are unbeaten in their five Super League games so far, while DBS Éanna have a 4-1 record from their opening fixtures.

The teams face off at Ballincollig Community School and O’Sullivan said: “We are looking forward to playing Éanna at our venue. Darren (McGovern) has assembled one of the most talented and deepest teams in the league, a lot of experience too, which makes this game one our toughest of the year without doubt. It was great to be able to get the fringe players a game last weekend and all the lads are striving to improve each week. Again, one of our goals is to win our home games and we expect a huge battle next Saturday.”

His counterpart at DBS Éanna, Darren McGovern, spoke of a “mini injury crisis” last week, but DBS Éanna managed to emerge 86-84 winners at Moycullen last Sunday and McGovern is hoping his depleted squad won’t be further hit by injuries. “Ballincollig are exceptional. There are many reasons why I say that. They have huge talent, a team ethos and winners. It will be a tough road trip for us for sure. I hope to have all the bodies that where available against Moycullen for this weekend, fingers crossed.  I panic when anyone texts or calls me from the squad in the last five weeks.”

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors host Griffith College Templeogue at the Tralee Sports Complex and John Dowling talked up his opponents ahead of an eagerly anticipated contetst. “Griffith College Templeogue versus Garvey's Tralee Warriors is always one of the biggest games of the year and we certainly can’t wait to get underway in the complex on Saturday night. They are one of the teams to beat, as always, (they’re) strong inside with Jason (Killeen), outside with Lorcan (Murphy), and Puff (Summers) is doing a massive job running the show on the floor. On top of that, on the sideline they have Mark (Keenan), the Irish senior men’s coach. We will be up against it, but our guys can’t wait for the challenge.”

Marquel Murphy, Griffith College Templeogue

Griffith College Templeogue have lost their last three games, in the National Cup and Super League. Mark Keenan believes his team will have to be in optimum form to end that run at Garvey’s Tralee Warriors. “Playing Garvey's Tralee Warriors in Tralee is traditionally one of toughest games all season. We will need to play at our best and for 40 minutes, not 20 minutes like we’ve been playing the last few weeks.”

Killester lost 87-72 at Tradehouse Central Ballincollig last weekend and they take on more Cork opposition this weekend, when they host C&S Neptune, who were 83-80 winners over Griffith College Templeogue. Brian O’Malley, Killester’s head coach, wants a response from his side. “It's a massive bounce back game for us, as we had a rough time in Cork last weekend. C&S Neptune had a great win over Griffith College Templeogue, so they'll be buoyed by that result. The games have been coming thick and fast, and you face great quality each week. For us, a lot will depend on how we can manage their key danger men. (Nil) Sabata has been immense since coming to the league, but he's not their only threat, so we have our work cut out.”

Farouq Raheem, of Killester, at the National League launch last September

Colin O'Reilly, C&S Neptune head coach, thinks his side are in for a stern test. “Killester in their home gym has always been one of the toughest trips every year that fixtures are released. This year is no different, as they have returned with the majority of their previous season's roster, which has helped them start season strongly. Intensity in games has increased over the past couple of weeks, as players become sharper and I expect it to be more of the same Saturday.”

Belfast Star face a lengthy journey to take on Team 360 Financial Killorglin. They’ll do so without Paul Dick, who picked up a foot injury in their 81-73 win over NUIG Maree. “We have only played twice in Killorglin and both games have been very tight with the teams sharing the spoils. I would expect another close encounter this weekend with a super atmosphere as always. They are a good side and in Allan Thomas they have a terrific American, capable of high level scoring. Simon Francis is also having an impressive season so far. They have multiple threats and Declan (Wall) will have them well drilled for sure. The loss of Paul Dick again to injury will leave a huge gap in our roster, but an opportunity for someone else to step up. At least Kilorglin isn't that far from Belfast!”

File picture: Paul Dick watches on at an Ireland senior men's training session in May 2021

Team 360 Financial Killorglin lost 97-81 at UCD Marian last time out, head coach Declan Wall, is glad to have the comforts of home side time round. “Nice to be back in Killorglin this weekend again, in what will be our last home game before Christmas. The way the fixtures have fallen, we will seem to have a lot of our away games done before Christmas this time, so a lot of home fixtures to look forward to in second half of the season. Belfast Star will offer another big test to us, as they are a well-coached and organised team that will cause us problems for sure if we aren't at our best. Hopefully we will get a few guys back this week from injury, to boost us a little after last week's struggles. Morale is good in the camp and like I have told the lads - there will be a lot of highs and lows as we go along the season, but ultimately  we need to stay focused on our goals that we have set ourselves come the end, and see if that is good enough to get us to where we want to be.”

NUIG Maree play host to UCD Marian at NUIG Sports Centre, looking for a reaction to their defeat at Belfast Star. They’ve downed Griffith College Templeogue and Garvey’s Tralee Warriors in their last two home games, something that UCD Marian head coach Josko Srzic is well aware of. “Our next opponent, NUIG Maree, will be a difficult team to play this season, especially at their home court. They have proven that in their last two home games, beating tough teams. They have a very good mix of American and European players in almost all positions, so we will definitely have to be on point from the start in Galway to have a good chance.”

NUIG Maree head coach Charlie Crowley

NUIG Maree head coach Charlie Crowley also gave his thoughts ahead of the game. “UCD Marian are a very smart and experienced side. They’ve got players who’ve won all sorts of titles, along with some great new additions. They put away Team 360 Financial Killorglin last week, who would be a strong team in our conference, so it’s for sure going to be a tough battle. We let ourselves down last weekend against a good Belfast Star team. We didn’t make the shots they gave us, and it cost us. It’s all about bouncing back now this weekend at home. We’re expecting another great crowd here at NUIG Kingfisher to help drive us over the line.”

Both Bright DCU Saints and Moycullen will be seeking their first wins of the Super League season, when they meet at DCU Sports Complex. Bright DCU Saints were defeated 86-72 by Garvey’s Tralee Warriors, while Moycullen lost 86-84 to DBS Éanna, the third time in five Super League matches that the Galway club have lost by three points or fewer.

Moycullen head coach John Cunningham remains upbeat. “We’re edging closer to getting that elusive first win. I was really proud of our effort on Sunday. In the first quarter it felt like we did the opposite of everything we planned for and ended up down by 15. At that point, against a team of Éanna’s quality, it was hard to see anything other than a hiding. However, we dug in, and for the next two quarters we kept cutting the gap, only for Éanna to edge away again. Being down by 17 going into the 4th quarter gave us a second opportunity to throw in the towel, but we did the opposite and took total charge of the game. To have a shot to win or tie at the end of a game like that is a sign we’re on the right road. Bright DCU Saints are in a similar position to ourselves at the moment, so that makes it a real pressure game for both teams next weekend. We’ve had some great ding-dong battles over my years involved at Super League level, and I don’t envisage anything different on Saturday night. Hopefully we come out on the right side of it!”

Gareth Winders, Bright DCU Saints, head coach added: “Great performance from our players in Tralee, it’s not an easy place to go and get anything. Moycullen will pose a new challenge for us and will bring a strong game, backed by experienced players. We have been getting better every week. Our young players are beginning to find their feet in this league and we will start seeing stronger performances as a team.”

In the InsureMyVan Division 1 UCC Demons and Limerick Sport Eagles remain the only unbeaten sides. Limerick Sport Eagles are away at WIT Vikings on Saturday, head coach Matt Hall said: “We have a good start in the league and cup with a lot of home games. This is our first proper away game having to travel, so it's very important that we get a good performance against a very good young team. We've been working hard this week and everyone is well aware of the importance of this game, as we try and continue our good start to the season.”

On Sunday UCC Demons host Portlaoise Panthers at the Mardyke Arena. Head coach Daniel O’Mahony stated: “Yes we play Portlaoise this coming weekend, which I'm sure will be a real tough game. They have a lot of experience, in particular with Luke (Thompson) and Conor (Gallagher). We are light enough this coming weekend, with some key players missing through injuries and other commitments. We started really strongly in the conference, but in last few weeks since our American player departed we are a different outfit and players are adapting to their new roles within the team. But we are looking forward to playing in front of our fans, as with a weekend off and away last week it seems like forever since we got to play for them.”

North Conference leaders McGowan’s Tolka Rovers will be aiming for their fifth win in a row when they travel to LYIT Donegal.

Gerald Kennedy, McGowan’s Tolka Rovers head coach, said: “LYIT is no easy win. People seem to be sleeping on them, just because of they haven’t had a good start to the season. But I have watched their games and they have a good team. Sooner are later they will start to surprise people. So my expectations are always the same, going for our fifth win or tenth win, play up to our standards and good things will happen! What I’m truly seeing is that there no easy games in our league.”

Both IT Carlow and Grand Hotel Malahide will be looking for an immediate response to their first league defeats of the season, IT Carlow host Killarney Cougars while Grand Hotel Malahide also have home advantage when they welcome Titans. Elsewhere, it’s EJ Sligo All-Stars versus Abbey Seals Dublin Lions at Mercy College and Fr. Mathews are at home to Limerick Celtics. Ulster University's game with Drogheda Wolves at UUJ was postponed due to Covid-19. Super League Fixtures Super League Fixtures 

Saturday 20th November  

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig v DBS Éanna (Ballincollig Community School) 1600 

NUIG Maree v UCD Marian (NUIG Sports Centre) 1900  

Bright DCU Saints v Moycullen POSTPONED

Killester v C&S Neptune (IWA Clontarf) 1900 

Team 360 Financial Killorglin v Belfast Star (Killorglin Sports Complex) 1915 

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors v Griffith College Templeogue (Tralee Sports Complex) 1930 Division 1 Fixtures Division 1 Fixtures 

Saturday 20th November  

IT Carlow Basketball v Killarney Cougars (Barrow Centre) 1230  

LYIT Donegal v McGowans Tolka Rovers (LYIT) 1600 

Grand Hotel Malahide v Titans (Malahide Community School) 1900 

WIT Vikings v Limerick Sport Eagles (Carrickpherish Sports Hall) 1900 

EJ Sligo All-Stars v Abbey Seals Dublin Lions (Mercy College) 1930 

Ulster University v Drogheda Wolves (UUJ) POSTPONED

Fr. Mathews v Limerick Celtics (Fr. Mathews Arena) 1945  

Sunday 21st November  

UCC Demons v Portlaoise Panthers (Mardyke Arena) 1500