A hugely-anticipated top of the table clash got underway in Kerry on Saturday evening as Garvey’s Tralee Warriors hosted DBS Éanna in the Men’s Super League. The game had added spice in that the two sides will also meet next Saturday afternoon in the Hula Hoops Cup semi finals in Cork.
Warriors stormed out of the gates off the back of a great offensive performance from Andre Berry, and that, coupled with solid rebounding from Kieran Donaghy saw Éanna struggle to get a hold in the game, to see Warriors into a solid lead at the half, 51-33. Éanna dug deep in the third though, and with Stefan Zecevic leading the charge, they battled back with some key three pointers. Paul Dick and Jonathan Lawton were on hand to reply at the other end for Warriors to keep them ahead 65-50 going into the last quarter. Éanna were not going down without a fight though, and the combination of Paris Ballinger and Mark Reynolds began to pay dividends, as they produced some key stops and scores to see Éanna into their first lead of the game with four minutes to play. Again, it was Paul Dick who was on hand to take the momentum away from the visitors with a deep three-pointer, leaving Éanna chasing once again. They just couldn’t convert their chances down the stretch though and Warriors pipped the win under immense pressure, 80-77.
Head coach Pat Price reflected afterwards: “When two teams get together, a lot of it comes down to surviving runs, because they’re hard to stop. It was important for us to get out to a good start on our home court as we didn’t want to instill them with confidence that they could play here. Fair play to them, they made some big shots, Paris Ballinger kept them in the game late making tough play after tough play. That’s what happens when good teams get together - it’s not about one team playing bad, it’s about outlasting the other.”
Delaney Blaylock was the star for Belfast Star on Saturday evening as he delivered an outstanding performance on both ends of the floor to finish with 34 points and help his side home to a 90-83 point win over Pyrobel Killester. Indeed, the final scoreline doesn’t truly reflect the flow of the game, as it was in the melting pot right up until the final few minutes, when Blaylock and CJ Fulton stepped up to deliver the final blows. Throughout the four quarters neither team could gain a comfortable lead, with Kason Harrell, Tomas Fernandez and Ciaran Roe the standouts for Killester. It was Belfast Star who were able to put the final run together though with a superb Sean Quinn three-pointer and bonus play helping them over the line.
UCD Marian took home a nail-biting 79-76 point victory over Coughlan C&S Neptune in a thriller. UCD held a 41-33 point half time lead but Neptune came back strong in the third, with Cian Heaphy leading the way. Scores from UCD’s Marius Markiewicz and Scott Kinevane kept the hosts in the lead, 59-52 going into the last, but once again Neptune rallied back, with Lehmon Colbert making big plays to give Neptune their first lead of the game. With minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game was on a knife-edge before UCD went up by three with just seconds to go. Neptune’s buzzer beater did not find it’s target, to see UCD take the win by three.
Elsewhere in the capital, Moycullen scooped up a significant road victory on Saturday evening, taking a 78-91 point win over DCU Saints in Glasnevin. Michael Bonaparte was in fantastic scoring form for the hosts, while the Moycullen guard combo of Patrick Lyons and Paul Kelly stepped up in the second half, making key plays to tie the game 63-63 going into the final quarter. Moycullen pushed on in the fourth quarter with a dazzling performance from Grant Olsson leading the way to see home a significant win for the Galway side.
Abbey Seals Dublin Lions lost out to neighbours Griffith College Templeogue in a big Dublin derby game, 59-76. Lorcan Murphy was the standout for Templeogue on the night, and despite the best efforts of Finn Hughes for Lions, Templeogue just had too much firepower. Maree and Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin dished up an electrifying game in Galway on Saturday evening, with the Kerry side just edging it at the death, 73-78. The game was extremely close throughout, with Darin Johnson and Eoin Rockall the standouts for the hosts, while Rami Ghanem and Colin O’Reilly shone brightest for Killorglin, and were key in helping them over the line.
In the Women’s Super League, Maxol WIT Wildcats secured a key 63-68 point away win over Fr Mathews in Cork on Saturday evening in a game that truly lived up to its billing. Wildcats led for most of the clash, but only by small margins throughout, holding a two-point lead at half time behind good work from Jasmine Walker and Stephanie O’Shea. Shannon Brady and Grainne Dwyer were on form for the home side – with Dwyer a welcome addition back to the hosts following an injury before the Christmas break - but again, it was Walker and O’Shea who kept the visitors out in front and push on to win by five in a close finish.
Speaking afterwards, head coach Jillian Hayes stated: "I’m delighted with the win tonight. Any win on the road is a good one for us. I felt our defence was key to the win.”
Pyrobel Killester produced a terrific second half performance to secure a big home victory against Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics on Saturday evening, 69-55. Liffey welcomed back Sorcha Tiernan from injury, while 2018/19 American, Briana Green, has also returned to the side for the remainder of the season. It was close between the sides throughout the first half, with the second quarter turning into a shoot out in Clontarf, with Tiernan for Liffey and Aisling McCann for Killester getting 10 points apiece at either end. Killester just had the edge at the break, 38-34. Adella Randle El began to assert her authority more for Killester in the second half, combining well with Mimi Clarke for some key scores, while Green, Tiernan and Ailbhe O’Connor replied at the other end to keep the game neck-in-neck going into the last, Killester leading 58-50. A huge fourth quarter from the hosts followed, with Randle El dominant throughout. Scores from McCann, Rebecca Nagle and a solid drive from Christa Reed gave the Dubliners some breathing room, and they pushed on from there to win out 69-55 in the end.
Up in Galway meanwhile, Maree overcame a tough challenge from Singleton SuperValu Brunell at home Saturday evening to run out 84-73 winners in the end. The game was tightly contested throughout the first half, with Claire Rockall and Carly McClendon the standout for the hosts. A dazzling display from Brunell’s Treyanna Clay and Katie Walshe just wasn’t enough as the hosts drove home to an 84-73 point win in the end.
League leaders DCU Mercy were clinical in their dominant away win over Marble City Hawks, winning out 49-78 in the end. A terrific team performance from the visitors saw them command the lead from the start and they set the pace on defence making it very difficult for Hawks throughout. The final game of the weekend saw Ambassador Glanmire earn a dominant away win against IT Carlow Basketball on Sunday afternoon, winning out on 50-91 in the end. Tatum Neubert put on a star performance for Glanmire as they charged into a 28-48 point lead at the half. A great display from fellow American, Shrita Parker and another standout display from Aine McKenna on both ends of the floor helped Glanmire dominate and they pushed on to win out well in the end.