Basketball

RECAP: Solid Win For Belfast Star As DBS Éanna's Unbeaten Streak Ends To DCU Saints

RECAP:  Solid Win For Belfast Star As DBS Éanna's Unbeaten Streak Ends To DCU Saints

DCU Saints handed DBS Éanna their first loss in the Men’s Super League on Saturday evening, with a 70-55 win over their Dublin neighbours.

Saints looked threatening from the off, opening up an early 21-14 first quarter lead thanks to sharpshooting from Graham Brannelly and Mike Bonaparte. Despite good work from Stefan Zecevic and Paris Ballinger of Éanna in the second, the hosts still led at the half, 43-33. Big scores from Zecevic down the stretch began to close the gap, but Bonaparte, Martin Neary and Charlie Coombes were all on hand to steady the DCU ship and finish the game out strong to win by 15 points.

Speaking afterwards, Saints' head coach Mark Kiernan stated: "As a coach, a win like this is extremely satisfying as the contribution from the bench matched that of the starting five. Éanna didn't make life easy at any stage and were always a threat throughout. This will act as a boost to the team as an indication of how we can perform against a classy opposition. As for all teams, next week is yet again another test for us. The takeaways from this are extremely positive from the perspective of the players, club and coaching staff."

Belfast Star managed to hold out under pressure from UCD Marian to secure an 85-78 point home win. Trailing by one point at the end of the first quarter, momentum slowly swung in Star's favour in the second, with Ben Marello (who finished the game out with 27 points) leading the way, to hold a 43-33 half time cushion. Good scoring from Aidan Quinn and CJ Fulton helped extend Star's lead, 66-49, going into the last, and though Marian launched a strong comeback through Barry Drumm in the fourth, Star held on to win out by seven in the end.

Down in Galway meanwhile, Maree overcame the challenge of Griffith College Templeogue with ease on Saturday evening, defeating the 2019 Champions Trophy champions 83-71. Maree led from the start, with big defensive displays keeping Templeogue to just 27 points in the first half. Big performances from Darin Johnson, Kenneth Hansberry and Paul Freeman saw them keep control of the pace of the game to run out 12-point winners. Speaking afterwards, head coach Mike Lynch stated: “I’m absolutely delighted with tonight’s results. We were under no illusions as to who were favourites coming into the game, but we did our homework well and the players put on a great defensive display.”

Elsewhere, Pyrobel Killester dealt Neptune a second loss in as many weeks with a solid performance down in Cork on Saturday evening. Spaniard Tomas Fernandez led the way for the Dubliners, with guards Isaac Westbrooks and Ciaran Roe also impressing in a 70-82 point win. Garvey’s Tralee Warriors picked up a big home win on Saturday evening, running out 89-53 point winners over Moycullen in Kerry. Jonathan Lawton and Eoin Quigley were two of the standouts for the Tralee outfit as they drove into a 44-27 point lead at the half and didn’t look back from there.

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Over in the Women’s Super League, DCU Mercy continued their perfect start to the season on Saturday evening, running out 62-76 point winners over Fr Mathews in Cork in a hotly-contested battle. DCU had the better of the opening exchanges, leading 10-24 going into the second quarter thanks to sharp shooting from Sarah Woods and Ashley Russell. A rapid recovery for the hosts though saw Fr Mathews find their rhythm, with Grainne Dwyer and Shannon Brady beginning to dominate inside. Momentum stayed with the Cork side and they were down by by just two going into the last, 50-52. DCU pushed back hard in the fourth though, getting out of the blocks early with a run of big scores from Russell and Rachel Huijsdens and, despite Mathews' best efforts, Mercy ran out 62-76 point winners in the end.

“That was tough, but you would expect a tough clash from Fr Mathews when you come to Cork,” reflected Mercy head coach, Mark Ingle. “If you look at the final score, it looks like a very good road win but I still think we left it a lot out there. I think our defence swung the game in the fourth quarter. We did a better job pressuring the guards and stopping the entry pass into Shannon and she didn’t get the ball as easy."

Elsewhere, Maree overcame Maxol WIT Wildcats in Waterford Saturday evening 80-92 in a thriller. The game was neck-in-neck throughout the opening three quarters, with Wildcats leading by just three at the end of the third, 67-64. A huge fourth quarter from Maree's Aine McDonagh, Carly McClendon, and Claire Rockall – who combined for 58 points in total - helped edge Maree into the lead. Despite a big 20-point display from Wildcats' underage international star Debbie Ogayemi and a great performance from Stephanie O’Shea, Maree held their nerve in the closing stages of the fourth quarter to get the road win.

There was a big showdown in Leixlip on Saturday evening, as Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics went on the hunt for revenge over Ambassador UCC Glanmire after their Cup loss last week. It wasn’t to be for the reigning league champions though, as Glanmire's Shirta Parker was one of the standouts on the night, finishing the game out with 25 points. Despite good work from Liffey’s Kylee Smith and Aine O’Connor Glanmire took home the win, 51-73. Elsewhere, Pyrobel Killester ran out impressive 105-57 point winners over IT Carlow Basketball in Clontarf on Saturday afternoon. In what was a dominant performance from the Dublin side - who truly shot the lights out - they converted 15 three pointers on the night, with Adella Randle El impressing with a final tally of 24 points.

The final game of the weekend saw Singleton SuperValu Brunell overcome Marble City Hawks in Cork, on a final scoreline of 65-45 to pick up their first win of the season. New American Treyanna Clay proved to be a strong signing for Tim O’Halloran’s charges as they ran into a 41-27 point lead at the half. Good work from point guard Danielle O’Leary and Greta Tamasanskaite kept the scores ticking over for Brunell and despite a good display from Cassidy Williams and Elaine Kennington of Hawks, their first win of the season remained elusive.

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