The Men’s Super League has been blown wide open once more, with DBS Éanna losing their unbeaten run last weekend as the hands of DCU Saints. With the gap firmly closing at the top of the table, this weekend’s games are going to be big ones.
MEN’S SUPER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Pyrobel Killester v Maree (Saturday, IWA Clontarf, 5pm)
Killester showed a solid response after their home loss to Tralee two weeks ago as they went to Cork and delivered Neptune their first home loss and just second loss overall. The new addition of Minatautas Bulanovas will give even more options to Brian O’Malley as the Dubliners try and drag themselves back into the title race. Despite two poor home performances, they are very much in the mix now sitting just one game behind Tralee and Éanna and they will likely only get stronger as they integrate their new signings. Maree looked like they were in serious danger of getting isolated at the foot of the table but last weekend’s shock win over Templeogue has given them a huge breath of life. Darin Johnson is consistently giving the team excellent performances and Kenneth Hansberry again showed his class last weekend. Killester will expect to win at home but they’ve lost to Galway opposition at home already this year.
DBS Éanna v Belfast Star (Saturday, Colaiste Eanna, 7pm)
For the first time this season DBS Éanna will have to bounce back from a loss, they will be happy that they at least get to try and do so at home. The warning signs had been there in their home match against Maree but the first loss came last week away to DCU in a game where Éanna managed 23 points below their average. This week, they face a very tricky matchup against Belfast Star who are in joint second place on 12 points. Star took care of UCD Marian last weekend with new American signing Ben Marello impressing with 27 points. There are interesting matchups all over the floor this weekend with CJ Fulton going head to head with Eanna’s American duo of Wilson and Ballinger Marello facing off against the October Player of the Month, Stefan Zecevic. This has the potential to be a shootout and will be well worth a watch.
Griffith College Templeogue v DCU Saints (Saturday, Nord Anglia, 7pm)
The first of two Dublin derbies this weekend, Templeogue looked like they were rounding into title contending form two weeks ago as they easily disposed of UCD Marian in the Cup and then beat Neptune too. Just as things were going well though, they were upset at home by a Maree team that had lost five games in a row coming into the game. With Lorcan Murphy out, Templeogue couldn’t find a way to score consistently, as they managed just 27 points in the first half and they shot a dismal 30% from two-point range as they just couldn’t get going in a 12-point loss. DCU were dominant at home against Éanna last weekend and will be full of confidence as they head to Templeogue. The added bonus of Mike Bonaparte returning to his old team will make this interesting. With Tralee looking ominously good, Templeogue cannot afford to drop this game.
UCD Marian v Abbey Seals Dublin Lions (Saturday, UCD, 7pm)
The second of the Dublin derbies is in UCD this weekend as they face off against Abbey Seals Dublin Lions. UCD Marian dropped their second game of the year on the road to Belfast last weekend, Barry Drumm and Matt Kelly scored well but they just didn’t have the firepower to pull off an away win in a tough gym. This week they return home to UCD to face Dublin Lions who are still chasing their first win. Lions were undone again last week by their defense as they gave up 93 points at home to Killorglin. Romonn Nelson is a consistent scorer for Lions but coach Rob White will be hoping his team don’t have to rely on offense to win games. This weekend’s game should be an interesting battle and it is a must win for Marian if they are to stay competitive at the top end of the table.
Keane’s Supervalu Killorglin v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors (Saturday, Killorglin Sports Centre, 7.15pm)
Just two weeks after their Cup match in Killorglin, the two Kerry teams will lock horns again in Killorglin. Tralee won the Cup match comfortably in the end as Killorglin tried to integrate all of their new players who were making their debuts. With the team more settled now after two weeks and on the back of some good wins against Belfast and Lions, coach Colin O’Reilly will be hoping to give Tralee an even more competitive game this weekend. The worry for Killorglin is that Tralee have hit a level of performance since their loss to Eanna that would suggest that the league could be theirs to lose. The depth of options available to Pat Price is staggering and the team seemingly have a lineup to match up with whatever their opponents want to put on the floor. Anything can happen in a derby game and Killorglin will be hoping for a league upset of their local rivals for the second straight year.
Moycullen v Coughlan C&S Neptune (Saturday, The Jes, 7.30pm)
Moycullen return to Galway this weekend after a heavy beating away to Tralee. They find themselves in the unusual home setting of the Jes this weekend as they welcome a Neptune team who have suddenly dropped back to back games. Killester stifled Neptune last weekend and Lehmon Colbert will be hoping to reignite the team’s offense this weekend. In particular he will be hoping to get his backcourt of Roy Downey and Kyle Hosford going. Hosford in particular has consistently been one of the top scoring guards in the country for Demons but he has averaged just eight points a game so far in his move across town. If Hosford and Downey can get going, it gives Neptune the perfect inside out combination that will be a problem for everyone in the league. Neptune have the size to cause Moycullen huge issues but if the Tribesmen shoot the ball well, which they are capable of doing, it could be a great game.
WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE
It’s just as interesting over in the Women’s Super League, with DCU Mercy still unbeaten at the top of the table, but a number of teams are hot on their heels in what is gearing up to be a massive title race.
IT Carlow Backetball v Marble City Hawks (Saturday, The Barrow Centre, 3.15pm)
Neither team has a win yet to their name as we go into a local derby in Carlow this week. In what could have major implications in the battle to avoid relegation, this should be an interesting battle. Carlow have the weakest defense in the league to date, giving up 89 points per game, but their opponents this week have struggled to score so far this year averaging just 50 points per game. Defensively, Marble City aren’t far off the pace of the rest of the league so they will be hoping that a vulnerable Carlow defense will get their offense clicking and allow them to capture their first win of the league. For Carlow they will need their home court advantage and a dominant display from Alyssa Velles and Kaitlyn Slagus to grab their first win of the year.
Pyrobel Killester v Maree (Saturday, IWA Clontarf, 7pm)
Both teams are coming in off big wins last weekend. Killester dominated Carlow winning by 43 points. The American duo of Randle El and Reed are clicking and they will give Maree lots of problems. Maree though are comfortable going into difficult environments and pulling out big performances. Last week’s 12-point away win against Waterford showed just that. With Aine McDonagh scoring well it gives the Maree team a valuable third option alongside Claire Rockall and Carly McClendon. Maree currently sit in second place behind DCU with just one loss. This match will either create a bit more separation from some of the chasing pack, or draw them back into the group of five teams who currently have two losses.
Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics v Fr Mathews (Saturday, Leixlip Amenities, 7pm)
It’s not yet panic stations in Leixlip but the pressure is mounting on the defending champions. Star guard Sorcha Tiernan’s injury has dealt the defending champions a major blow and her loss has been evident over the last two weeks as they crashed out of the cup and dropped a league game both at the hands of Glanmire. This weekend, things get no easier as there is a repeat of last year’s Champions Trophy final that Fr Mathews won in dramatic fashion denying Liffey the treble. To win this weekend, Liffey will need to limit the inside threat of Dwyer and Brady for Mathews and they will need to get a good scoring performance from Darby Maggard. The American guard averages 16 points a game but in her last two games with her backcourt mate Tiernan sidelined, she has averaged only six points. Mathews will be looking for a good scoring game from their own American Chantell Alford who had six points in their loss to DCU last week. Fr Mathews are at their best when they get good scoring from the trio of Alford, Brady and Dwyer and they need all three firing in the big games for them to be able to challenge for trophies this year.
Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Maxol WIT Wildcats (Sunday, Mardyke Arena, 2.30pm)
The National Cup has seemingly ignited Glanmire’s season as they have had two big wins in a row. This week they welcome a Waterford team who are licking their wounds after a tough home loss to Maree. Shrita Parker is playing well for the Cork side and last week, Glanmire’s defense did the hard work as they limited Liffey to just 51 points on their home floor. Wildcats would have been hugely disappointed with their second half defensive display last week. They led at the break against Maree but then gave up 50 points in the second half as they lost at home by 12. Glanmire have the fire power to cause Wildcats’ defense more problems this weekend if they don’t tighten that area up. Both teams come into the game on two losses so this will be another game that helps separate that pack of five teams on two losses.
DCU Mercy v Singleton Supervalu Brunell (Sunday, DCU, 2.30pm)
DCU remain the only unbeaten team across the Men’s and Women’s Super League and they return home this week to face a challenging Brunell team. It’s a testament to the fire power and depth available to Mark Ingle that one of his American’s could score six points on 2/13 shooting, on the road to the defending Champions Trophy winners Fr Mathews last weekend, and yet Mercy still won the game by 14 points. This week they face a tricky encounter against a Brunell team that have more quality than their 1-3 record suggests. Since Greta Tamasanskaite and Treyanna Clay have made their debuts, Brunell have looked like a better team and they enjoyed a comfortable win last weekend to boost their confidence. This weekend, the battle for Brunell will likely happen on the boards. Brunell are currently last in rebounding in the league while Mercy have a dominant frontline. If Brunell can compete on the boards they could make the game competitive.