National League

National League
Nov 24 2021

Preview: The Address UCC Glanmire and DCU Mercy to renew rivalry in Super League

The Address UCC Glanmire head coach Mark Scannell says their rivalry with DCU Mercy is “one of the biggest in Irish basketball”. The two sides have finished top of the regular season in four of the last six years, while DCU Mercy are the current Super League champions. DCU Mercy are joint-top of the division with a 5-1 record, alongside WIT Waterford Wildcats, while The Address UCC Glanmire are just behind with a 4-2 start to the season, ahead of Sunday's clash.

Scannell admits it’s a fixture he always has a keen eye on. “I think it’s fair to say every year when the fixtures come out DCU is the first game we look at. The rivalry between the clubs is one of the biggest in Irish basketball and it’s those games that we really look forward to. They have started the season very well and will be very difficult to break down. The focus this week in training will be very narrow, with everyone knowing how important it is to perform to our best next Sunday. I hope we get a great crowd in the Mardyke next Sunday, for what we hope will be a great advert for women’s basketball.”

His counterpart at DCU Mercy, Mark Ingle, is also eagerly anticipating the game. "Everyone in our squad is looking forward to the challenge of playing (The Address) UCC Glanmire in Cork and all that it entails. A great rivalry has built up between the two squads over the past few years and we will prepare with our best focus, for what should be a very exciting game."

 Mark Ingle speaking with his DCU Mercy squad at training

WIT Waterford Wildcats head coach Tommy O’Mahony thinks Fr. Mathews will be a “tough nut to crack” when they play each other on Saturday. His team will be looking to extend their five-game winning run in the league.

“This weekend we face a Fr. Mathews side who have been quite unlucky with results thus far. They have an outstanding coach and high quality players, which makes them a tough nut to crack. We showed great fight to claim a win last weekend, but we have plenty of things we need to get better on, in order for us to be in with a shout of winning this weekend,” O’Mahony said.

 Anna Grogan, of WIT Waterford Wildcats.

Niamh Dwyer, Fr. Mathews head coach, added: “This is will be an interesting match-up, especially because we play each other the week after in the ( National) Cup. The Mercy is always good gym to play in, so we are looking forward to a tight game.”

Singleton SuperValu Brunell will be looking to bounce back from their 70-67 overtime defeat at home to WIT Waterford Wildcats when they travel to Killester. Head coach Tim O’Halloran is expecting a reaction from his players. “The game at the weekend is another big game on the road, especially after our defeat to Waterford. The best thing about this group is that they don’t like losing and came into training wanting to train and work on how we get better. Hopefully we can get it right on Saturday, against a good Killester team.”

Both sides have a 4-2 record going into the game and Killester head coach, Karl Kilbride, believes his side will need to be at their best to emerge with a win. “Brunell are going to be a really tough match-up. They have two excellent Americans, a bunch of really talented young players and the co-captain of the senior national team running the show, in Edel (Thornton). They’ve had an excellent start to the season and were unlucky not to come away with a win last week.

“We were happy with our performance last week, bar our turnovers. But we will really need to up it a notch this week, if we’re to come away with a win. We need to take care of the ball better and keep making the improvements we’ve been making at the defensive end and we’ll hopefully get a good performance.”

Ireland international Dayna Finn returns this weekend for Trinity Meteors, after missing their 66-53 defeat to Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics last Saturday. They’re away at winless IT Carlow Basketball, but Vincent O’Keeffe is certainly not underestimating their weekend opponents.

“Even though they haven't got the results they would have hoped for so far, IT Carlow played extremely well against league leaders DCU Mercy last week and will be looking to take that form into their home game against us. We are buoyed by the return of Dayna Finn, who injured herself while on Irish duty, and with both sides needing a win, it should be a close game,” O’Keeffe stated.

 Ireland international Dayna Finn returns for Trinity Meteors this weekend after missing last Saturday's game with Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics

Martin Conroy, IT Carlow Basketball head coach, is seeking to build on his side’s recent performance against DCU Mercy, a game they lost 79-67. “We look forward to welcoming Trinity Meteors to IT Carlow on Saturday. Meteors have been doing a great job since coming into the league and play some excellent team basketball. Vinny has done a great job with these ladies and they’re a very hard team to beat and play some lovely basketball. We played our best basketball of the season last week in DCU, but that will count for nothing if we don’t back that up this week. We still have Covid issues, but it’s only one game this weekend, so we’ll keep battling through.”

Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics host Team Garvey’s St. Mary’s and head coach Ioannis Liapakis feels his side will be tested physically. “Saturday’s game against St. Mary’s we’re expecting to be very physical and up-tempo. We know that St. Mary base their game on physicality and fast breaks, so we’re trying to prepare as best we can for it. I think the key points for Saturday’s game will be - transition game, rebounds and turnovers.”

In  Division 1, unbeaten North Conference leaders Ulster University travel to Portlaoise Panthers for a cross-conference game. Panthers have a 4-2 record and their head coach, Peter O’Sullivan, is looking forward to the encounter.

“Ulster University have always been a tough opponent for us and they bring their unbeaten league form on Saturday night. We’ll need to improve on recent performances to have any chance of picking up the win. We have a big game in us, so hopefully it’ll all come together this Saturday. On paper we’re well matched, so it should be an excellent contest.” - Portlaoise Panthers head coach Peter O'Sullivan.

Elsewhere on Saturday Limerick Sport Huskies will be looking for their fourth win in a row when they travel to Phoenix Rockets, Swords Thunder entertain Limerick Celtics and Griffith College Templeogue host NUIG Mystics, while on Sunday Tipperary Knights play LYIT Donegal.

There are no games in the Super League due to the international window, which sees the Irish senior men play Cyprus on Thursday and Austria on Sunday in FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre Qualifiers Round 1.

In the Division 1 Killarney Cougars and Limerick Celtics face each other on Thursday, followed by Saturday games against Fr. Mathews and WIT Vikings respectively.

Unbeaten Limerick Sport Eagles take on IT Carlow Basketball on Friday, head coach Matt Hall highlighted their recent struggles against their upcoming opponents. “Tough game against a team we have a losing record against over the last three years. Playing on a Friday night is a change for all of the team, so we have had to bring the weeks preparations forward a day, but we feel we will be ready for the game and hope to continue a good start to the season.”

The division’s other unbeaten side, UCC Demons, aren’t in action this weekend. On Saturday Ulster University play LYIT Donegal at UUJ, while Portlaoise Panthers take on Scotts Lakers Killarney.

It will be the second game in two days for both Portlaoise Panthers and Fr. Mathews, who do battle in the first round of the President’s Cup in the National Cup on Friday night at St. Mary’s Hall.