TRADEHOUSE Central Ballincollig are the only reigning Hula Hoops Cup champions left standing across all four competitions, as they saw off the challenge of Portlaoise Panthers in their Presidents Cup quarter-final on Saturday afternoon in style, winning out 96-57 in the end.
Ballincollig were led on the scoring by Andre Nation, who top scored in the game with 24 points, and good work from both him and Ciaran O’Sullivan saw them take a 47-27 half time advantage.
Ballincollig now go on to face LYIT Donegal in the semi-finals in a rematch of their recent hotly-contested league game.
Head coach Kieran O’Sullivan stated: “We are delighted to be back in the semi final of the Cup. Being back-to-back champions and having the Cup semis in Cork is very special for Ballincollig. Playing LYIT is going to be very tough and will be one of the games of the weekend without doubt.”
There's still the possibility of an all-Cork decider, as Fr Mathews continued their strong league form of late to book a semi-final spot thanks to a 73-58 point win over Ej Sligo All Stars in Cork.
A nervy opening half saw nothing between the sides, with Fr Mathews holding a slim 31-28 point lead at half time. The third quarter saw Jarvis Pugh, Luke O’Mahony and Declan Cahill all hit their rhythm for the hosts though and they opened up a 57-39 point lead at the end of the third and didn’t look back from there. They face IT Carlow in the semi-final at the start of January.
Player-coach Darko Bucan said: “It’s nice to get a win and I’m very happy for the team. Credit to them, they responded very well defensively. We knew coming in that Sligo are a tough team that don’t give up and they really pushed us at times.
"That was a great team performance, we’ll enjoy it and then move on to next week.”
Ballincollig and Mathews have a huge league game next Sunday at 1pm in BCS, with both teams in action as well the evening before against Limerick opposition.
There's also the chance of an all-Cork clash in the senior women's grade.
Ambassador UCC Glanmire moved into the the Hula Hoops Paudie O’Connor Cup semi-finals after overcoming Maxol WIT Wildcats in a thriller in Cork on Sunday afternoon, 74-66.
Nothing separated the teams throughout in an extremely close battle, with Wildcats pushing Mark Scannell's side every step of the way. The hosts had standout displays in Shrita Parker and Aine McKenna, who finished with 26 and 19 points respectively.
They'll take on Pyrobel Killester next month, who put in a dazzling display in Clontarf to defeat Fr Mathews by 12 points and reach their first cup semi-final since 2016.
Mathews started the game stronger, with Shannon Brady dominating under the boards inside and Grainne Dwyer shooting well to see them into an early lead.
Mathews were dealt a blow late on when Grainne Dwyer had to leave the court due to injury, though Chantell Alford and Simone O’Shea stepped into the gap in style, knocking down some big scores to leave just one point between the sides. A huge three from Nagle with 42 seconds to go though was the turning point for Killester, as she stretched out their lead once more, and they managed to hold on well to win out 72-64 in the end.
Singleton SuperValu Brunell have had their problems in the campaign to date but edged out Kilkenny on Saturday evening: 69-62.
Despite leading by 23-35 at half time thanks to strong scoring from Treyanna Clay and Danielle O’Leary, Brunell were under pressure throughout the second half as Hawks were not going down without a fight. Huge performances from Cassidy Williams and Aine Sheehy brought the hosts right back into the game, but their comeback ran out of time as Brunell held on to win by five in the end.
Coughlan C&S Neptune's great season continues after a superb second half saw them overcome DCU Saints: 100-79.
An extremely close first half saw Martins Provizors, Mike Bonaparte and Kevin Lacey lead the way for the hosts with some superb shooting. A big finish to the second quarter by Neptune though, thanks to Peter Hoffman and Kyle Hosford - who were the standouts for the Cork outfit on the night and saw them combining for 57 points in the game - edged Neptune into a 49-55 half time lead. Momentum stayed with Neptune in the third as Hoffman and Hosford continued to dominate, and they ran out comfortable 79-100 point winners in the end.
Neptune will meet 2018 Cup champions Griffith College Templeogue in the semis.
Éanna, who got past Ballincollig to gain promotion last season, take on Garvey’s Tralee Warriors in the other semi-final in Cork.
Hula Hoops Pat Duffy National Cup: DBS Éanna v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors; Griffith College Templeogue v Coughlan C&S Neptune.
Hula Hoops Paudie O’Connor National Cup: DCU Mercy v Singleton SuperValu Brunell; Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Pyrobel Killester.
Hula Hoops Presidents Cup: LYIT Donegal v Tradehouse Central Ballincollig; IT Carlow Basketball v Fr Mathews.
Hula Hoops Women’s Division 1 National Cup: Ulster University v Trinity Meteors; Team Tom McCarthy’s St Mary’s v Portlaoise Panthers.