It’s Hula Hoops Cup quarter-final weekend across all four divisions in basketball this weekend, with some thrilling match ups in store in both the men’s and women’s cup. Reigning men’s champions Killester face a tricky test in Kerry this weekend, while it’s wide open in the women’s cup as reigning champs, Liffey Celtics, were knocked out in the opening round meaning a new name will be etched on this year’s Paudie O’Connor Cup.
Hula Hoops Men’s Pat Duffy National Cup
Belfast Star v DBS Éanna (Saturday, De La Salle, 6:30pm)
One of the toughest games of the weekend to call, Belfast Star will host DBS Éanna this weekend in De La Salle in a big Cup showdown. Star have a perfect record at home so far this season, and took home a big road win against Éanna in the league in Dublin earlier this month. Star have been struggling with injuries woes of late though, with new American Ben Marello missing their clash with Neptune last weekend, but they did welcome the return of Delaney Blaylock from injury and last week also saw the debut of new signing, David Jallow. Star will be hoping to go one step further than last year, where they bowed out to UCD Marian in the Cup semi-finals, but Éanna pose a tricky challenge for them this weekend. Stefan Zecevic continues to be one of the stand out performers in the Men’s Super League while the match up in the guards will be one to watch, with CJ Fulton facing off against Josh Wilson.
Griffith College Templeogue v Moycullen (Saturday, Nord Anglia International School, 7pm)
A rematch of their league fixture just two weekends ago, Templeogue will be on the hunt for revenge after Moycullen dished them up a five-point loss in the league in Galway. Templeogue’s confidence will be back up after picking up a statement win in Killester last weekend though, and they will be hoping that big man Jason Killeen will make a return to the floor this weekend after missing out the last few games due to injury. Moycullen face a tough test against the 2018 Cup champions, and will be looking to young star Paul Kelly as well as Grant Olsson to be firing strong for them on the night.
DCU Saints v Coughlan CandS Neptune (Saturday, St Vincent’s Glasnevin, 7:45pm)
The clash in St Vincent’s is certainly going to be one to watch, with a number of different variables set to impact the game. Neptune player/coach Lehmon Colbert is struggling with an elbow injury picked up in recent weeks, and could be limited in the minutes he plays. Martins Provizors and Mike Bonaparte for DCU Saints are continuing to be one of the hardest threats to penetrate for teams around the league, so Colbert’s level of impact could be key for Neptune. Kyle Hosford, Gary Walsh and Roy Downey will also need to be on solid form for the Cork outfit if they are going to get past a Saints side who will be gunning to make a Cup semi-final this season. The two sides met recently in Dublin in the league, with both teams missing key players on the night, and Neptune just edging the win on that occasion.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors v Pyrobel Killester (Saturday, Tralee Sports Complex, 8pm)
Possibly the fixture of the weekend across all Cup quarter-final clashes, the meeting of Tralee and Killester is set to be the one to watch this weekend as the reigning league champions host the reigning Cup champions in a big showdown. Down in Kerry, this is set to be a tough test for Killester who are coming into the clash off the back of an extremely tough loss at the hands of Templeogue in the league last Saturday evening. Killester’s big concerns this weekend will be the health of guards Ciaran Roe and Isaac Westbrooks who have been struggling with injury in the past week. Making up one of the strongest Irish backcourts in the country, Roe and Westbrooks would be a big loss for Killester this weekend if they don’t line out, particularly in the face of an extremely in-form Paul Dick for Warriors. This is set to be an interesting battle on all levels, with Warriors out for revenge after Killester knocked them out of the Cup semi-finals last season in Cork, while Killester will be hoping to dish up a loss to Tralee after the Warriors beat them in Clontarf in the league just a few short weeks ago.
Hula Hoops Women’s Paudie O Connor National Cup
DCU Mercy v IT Carlow Basketball (Saturday, DCU Complex, 3:30pm)
2018 Cup champions DCU Mercy will be hoping to blitz their way all the way through to a cup final this year, after bowing out at the semi-final stages last season to Liffey Celtics. Now, with Celtics - the reigning champions – out of the competition, and Mercy sitting top of the Super League table, they will definitely be favourites going in to this weekend’s clash, boasting a 7-1 record at the top of the table against Carlow’s 1-7 record. Mercy boast a depth on their bench that is the envy of most teams and this could ultimately prove to be the difference on Saturday, with Carlow relying heavily on two solid Americans in Kaitlyn Slagus and Alyssa Velles. DCU will have their work cut out for them restricting Slagus inside, but their rotations in the post are enviably strong and could see Slagus struggle as fresh defenders come in time and time again.
Marble City Hawks v Singleton SuperValu Brunell (Saturday, O Loughlin Gaels Gym, 5pm)
Marble City Hawks may well be sitting at the bottom of the table without a win so far this year, but Brunell can not be complacent going into their cup clash with the Kilkenny side this weekend. Hawks are on the hunt for that elusive first win and with this year being their first year in a Cup quarter-final, they will be chomping at the bit to get to a semi-final stage and knock last year’s Cup finalists out of the competition as they do. Hawks will need to up their game offensively though if they are to do that, with last weekend seeing them post just 43 points on the board against Wildcats. Brunell are also coming in off a tough loss against neighbours Fr Mathews, and will be hoping Treyanna Clay and Greta Tamasanskaite will assert their dominance early to see them into a Cork semi-final.
Pyrobel Killester v Fr Mathews (Saturday, IWA Clontarf, 5:30pm)
One of the big clashes of the weekend sees fourth-placed Killester welcome third place Fr Mathews to the IWA in Clontarf. Killester will be hurting after a tough loss to Glanmire in Cork last weekend, and will need a stronger first half performance to overcome a Mathews side who are coming in off a big win over Brunell last Sunday. Killester’s Aisling McCann, Rebecca Nagle and Christa Reed will need to hit their three-point shooting rhythm early on and, if they shoot the way they did in Cork in the second half last weekend for the entire game this Saturday, it will be hard to look past them for a semi-final spot. Mathews have Cup specialists in Grainne Dwyer and Chantell Alford though, and with Shannon Brady a massive threat under the boards for them, if they can take control of the pace of the game early, this could well prove to be another tough Cork match-up for the hosts.
Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Maxol WIT Wildcats (Sunday, Upper Glanmire, 2pm)
Old rivalries reignite in Upper Glanmire on Sunday afternoon as Glanmire host Wildcats in a big Cup quarter-final clash. Glanmire are the most in-form team in the league at the moment, as they are unbeaten in both league and Cup competitions since knocking Liffey Celtics out of the Cup just over a month ago and pipped Wildcats by 10 points in their league battle at the start of November. Their American Shrita Parker has been the stand out player in the league for the past couple of weeks and if Wildcats are aiming for a semi-final spot, they will need to find a way to stop her. Stephanie O’Shea has been a constant threat for the Waterford side under the boards though, and with new young players Abby Flynn and Debbie Ogayemi bedding in well to the league already they could be the ones to deliver Glanmire their first loss in five games.