With just three games to go in the Women's Super League the pressure switches to Maree this weekend as they host Cup Champions Killester. A loss by Maree on Saturday could give DCU Mercy the chance to secure the league title on Sunday. If both teams win though it sets up a mouth-watering tie between them both next week in Dublin. Elsewhere there are other big games with playoff implications all over the country.
Fr Mathews v Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics (Saturday, Fr Mathews Arena, 5pm)
Leixlip head to Cork on the back of a huge win last weekend against X. They know that this weekend may ultimately decide their playoff fate. Fr Mathews currently sit one game ahead of them in the standings with an 8-7 record. If Liffey win this weekend the two teams will be tied going into the final two games. Mathews are due to play Killester and Brunell in their final two games while Leixlip face the bottom two teams who currently have one win between them. Mathews won the first meeting between the teams by 12 so in the event of both teams having the same record points difference could also come into play. Last weekend Fr Mathews lost out narrowly at home to second place Maree, but having played well they will be confident going into this must win game. Leixlip’s big win last weekend away to Wildcats has made this game fascinating and if they can get another huge performance from Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman who scored 44 of their 79 points last weekend, this could be a classic. Add in the fact that it was Mathews who denied Leixlip the treble in dramatic fashion last year and this is all set up to be a must watch game.
Marble City Hawks v IT Carlow Basketball (Saturday, O’Loughlins GAA, 5pm)
With the possibility of relegation hanging over both teams this should be a tense game in Kilkenny. Carlow have only won win to their name this year and it was a dominant win over their neighbours MC Hawks back in November. Hawks only managed 41 points that day and the lowest scoring team in the country will need to find a way to have a big offensive game this weekend. Both teams have been unlucky not to pick up wins in recent weeks and this game will have been circled for weeks as the best opportunity for a win. Add in the local derby element and this should be a nail biter.
Maree v Pyrobel Killester (Saturday, Calasanctius College, 5pm)
The title race is alive coming into the final three weeks and it is likely only Maree who can keep it alive going into the final two games. That Maree are doing it in their first year in the Super League and with just one American is even more remarkable but they are not here to take pats on the back for doing well. Last weekend Maree went to a difficult venue in Fr Mathews and pulled out a big road win. They now host the Cup Champions Killester in Galway, in a venue where they have only dropped one game all season back in October. Killester come into the game having had their two month win streak coming to an end at the hands of DCU Mercy. In a one sided Derby game Mercy dominated and Killester will need to find a way to bounce back immediately if they are to win this weekend. In the first meeting between the teams Killester won by just three points (74-71). Killester’s American duo of Randle El and Reed combined for 49 in the first game and limiting them will be the focus for Joe Shields this weekend. The prize is obvious for Maree, win this weekend and the title fight remains alive as they head to DCU next weekend. A loss this weekend and that could be Mercy’s title party.
Maxol WIT Wildcats v Ambassador UCC Glanmire (Saturday, Mercy Gym, 7pm)
Heading into 2020, Wildcats were very much in contention for a top four finish but since the turn of the new year they have lost four of their last five games and their playoff place is suddenly in jeopardy. Their final two games are against two of the bottom three teams so relief could be on the way but they will want to secure their playoff spot as soon as possible. Glanmire head to Waterford knowing that their title hopes are still technically alive. It would take a huge collapse from DCU Mercy but should Mercy drop their game this weekend they then would have to face both 2nd and 3rd place over the final two weeks and the pressure would be on. As has been the case for much of the season, Shrita Parker was unstoppable in the first meeting between the teams and Mark Scannell will be hoping for more of the same this weekend as Glanmire strive to keep the title fight alive.
Singleton Supervalu Brunell v DCU Mercy (Sunday, Parochial Hall, 2.45pm)
Heading into Sunday, DCU Mercy will know exactly what the situation is as they head to Cork. If Maree win at home to Killester there will be no title win this weekend and Mercy just need to win to set up a showdown next weekend with Maree in Dublin. Should Maree slip up though, DCU will be able to win the league outright by beating Brunell. The fact that this opportunity comes against the same opposition and just one kilometre up the road from the site of Mercy’s biggest disappointment of the year won’t be lost on Mark Ingle or his team. Brunell shocked Mercy in the Cup semi-final and will need to do so again this weekend to blow open the title race. Mercy have been in ominous form since the cup semi-final and have won their four games since the shock cup exit by over 21 points a game. Brunell have struggled since the loss of Katie Walshe, they have won their last two games against the bottom teams but it’s hard to see past Mercy continuing their march to a possible league title.
Men’s Super League
With four games to go in the Men’s Super League it’s almost certainly a two-horse race at the moment with Belfast Star and Tralee Warriors clear of the chasing pack. Both teams face tricky home games this weekend with Tralee hosting a Kerry derby and Star hosting the only visiting team to have won in Belfast this season. A loss for either (or both) could dramatically change the title race.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors v Keane’s Supervalu Killorglin (Saturday, Tralee Sports Complex, 7.30pm)
With four games to go Tralee are still on track to win back to back league titles. They hold a one game lead over Belfast Star and with three home games left they will expect to make it over the line. This weekend the added spice of a Kerry derby could add an extra element to the mix. Killorglin have already beaten Tralee once this season and have won their only ever visit to Tralee in the Super League. Killorglin’s struggles have largely come outside of Kerry and the idea that they could disrupt their neighbours title chase will of course appeal to them. Killorglin also have a huge incentive to them as they are hanging on to the final playoff spot currently and need to find some big wins to ensure they make it into the playoff spots. This should be a physical battle and with the deeper team and home advantage it’s hard to see past Tralee especially as they are so close to the finish line.
Belfast Star v DBS Eanna (Saturday, De La Salle, 6.30pm)
Belfast Star are still very much in the title race but will face a massive challenge this weekend from Cup finalists DBS Eanna. Star’s title push has been fuelled by the home court advantage they have in De La Salle. They are currently 9-0 in the league, the only team to have such a strong home record. This weekend they will be challenged by DBS Eanna who came to Belfast earlier in the year and won in the cup quarter final. The fact they have already won here will give Darren McGovern hope. He’ll also have been happy with their 26 point win over DCU last weekend, which they hope will have brought back some of their 2019 league form. One key matchup to keep an eye out will be Stefan Zecevic and Delaney Blaylock. Blaylock had an incredible 50 point game in Star’s win over UCD last week but Zecevic is a good physical matchup for him and will make him work for his points this weekend. A loss for Star could end their title challenge but if they can win at home it keeps it very tense at the top.
Abbey Seals Dublin Lions v UCD Marian (Saturday, Colaiste Bhride, 5.30pm)
Ioannis Liapakis and his UCD team have had their title challenge likely ended by back to back losses over the past two weeks. This weekend they head to Dublin Lions to try and secure their playoff lives. It’s so tight at the top that UCD can go from title contenders to outside the top six in just three weeks. They face a Lions team who won their most recent home game and have been playing confident basketball despite already being relegated. With the absence of pressure has come a freedom for Lions and their young core are expressing themselves each week. UCD have the experience and size but Lions are dangerous at home and this could be a tight game.
Coughlan C&S Neptune v Moycullen (Saturday, Neptune Stadium, 7pm)
When asked about Moycullen in Neptune Stadium, some Neptune people would say that the Galway men shoot their best in that Arena. They will need to be at their best this weekend to beat C&S Neptune. Neptune lost a high scoring game to Killester last weekend, yet they are right in the playoff mix. With games to come against both Star and Tralee, Lehmon Colbert knows his team need wins now. Neptune have a big size advantage inside but Moycullen are dogged and comfortable in Neptune. Moycullen know they likely need two wins to avoid the relegation playoff so will be fighting for their Super League lives this weekend. This should be a home win on paper but Moycullen have heard that numerous times this year and have come up with huge performances.
DCU Saints v Griffith College Templeogue (Saturday, DCU Complex, 7pm)
DCU Saints have shown mixed form again this season, which has been the case for a number of years now. Last weekend they were heavily beaten by DBS while the weekend before they beat UCD Marian in a thriller. This weekend they host a Griffith College team who see themselves as amongst the favourites for the Champions Trophy. Mike Bonaparte will go up against his old squad and when he has added motivation he can be dangerous. Templeogue have the size to compete on the inside and have superior guards. Slowing Lorcan Murphy is a challenge DCU need to find an answer to. With DCU just one game off the relegation spots they know a big win could secure their Super League lives. Will the added motivation be enough or will they still be searching for that key win next week.
Maree v Pyrobel Killester (Saturday, Calasanctius College, 8pm)
Pyrobel Killester’s big win over Neptune at home last weekend has likely saved them from the relegation playoffs. They head to Maree this weekend and face a team that are still in a battle to save their Super League lives. Maree have three of their last four games against teams with losing records. They sit one game ahead of neighbours Moycullen and need to win at least one of those games to avoid the relation playoff. Killester have the depth and quality but have found themselves in predicaments all season long. Maree is not an easy place to play for most teams so Killester will be fully challenged but with the incentive of putting to bed any relegation concerns there, Killester would be expected to win.