BASKETBALL is back this weekend.
The first game in 19 months will actually take place on Leeside on Friday night when UCC Glanmire host St Mary’s Castleisland in the Women’s Super League at the Mardyke Arena (7.45pm).
The city of Cork has been known as the hotbed of Irish basketball for many years and the clash between Tradehouse Central Glanmire and C & S Neptune in the Men’s Super League is sure to be a thrilling encounter at Ballincollig Community School on Saturday.
Due to the pandemic restrictions only 100 people are allowed to attend the game and with the majority of season ticket holders at Ballincollig getting preference, Neptune’s support will be sparse.
The home side have completely changed their team for this campaign and new signings include Spanish guard Pau Cami and Slovenian forward Milorad Sedlarevic.
Adrian O’Sullivan has returned from playing professionally in Germany and Spain and will help his side in the point guard position. Keelan Cairns has joined from Belfast Star as he took up a job up in Cork and with Ciaran O’Sullivan, Dylan Corkery and Jack Kelly they have the nucleus of a very decent side.
This season Ballincollig announced that Ciaran O’Sullivan is joint-head coach which is strange in basketball at this level but maybe O’Sullivan is looking to the future where coaching will definitely be his priority with plenty of knowledge in his DNA.
Darren Geaney and Craig Drummond are assistant coaches and they have also have a new look to their side.
Kyle Hosford returned to his boyhood club UCC Demons who are back in Division 1 but they have made a decent signing in American Miles Washington. The Blackpool outfit have also recruited Catalonian point guard Alex Pugades and reports from the camp suggests he will bring something different to the team.
Roy Downey, Cian Heaphy, Adam Heaphy and the Hannigan twins Scott and James will give them good Irish talent with a winning pedigree at underage level behind them.
In the Women’s Super League The Address UCC Glanmire will open their campaign against St Mary’s Castleisland at the Mardyke Arena on Friday (7.45pm).
Glanmire have a very good squad this season and coach Mark Scannell has signed professionals Taylor Ragget a 5' 11" Canadian forward and Gigi Smith a 5' 10" guard.
Both players come with a decent reputation but it's the Irish panel of players that could help Glanmire regain their title.
In Claire Rockall, Aine McKenna, Casey Grace, Miriam Loughrey and Claire Melia you have class in abundance with plenty of experience in the locker.
It would be a major surprise if they fail to gain maximum points from this game.
Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell welcome back Edel Thornton following a four-year stint on scholarship in the States and two playing with Meteors in Dublin.
Coach Timmy O’Halloran will also have professionals Americans Kwanza Murray and Shannon Ryan and both reportedly come with quality CVs. This season Brunell have a very young side but coach O’Halloran believes his side have put in a solid preseason.
Playing Carlow away is a potential banana skin as coach Martin Conroy has a good record in signing quality Americans.
Fr Mathew’s have also put in a good preseason and coach Niamh Dwyer has stayed with the tried and tested for the coming campaign. Americans Shannon Brady and Trish Byrne have good experience playing in Ireland and that could prove crucial in their bid for silverware. Grainne Dwyer is in the twilight of her career but is still a very good player at this level.
Aisling McCann has signed from Killester for one season working as a doctor in Cork and Hollie Herlihy did not look out of place in the 2019 season and will give them some mettle in defence.
The return of UCC Demons to the Men’s Division 1 league will please their faithful and newly appointed coach Danny O’Mahony will be hoping the returning Kyle Hosford and American Andre Kennedy will lead them back to the Promised Land of Irish basketball.
The Sunday’s Well side open their campaign with a trip over the county bounds to play Killarney Cougars.
Fr Mathew’s are also competing in this league and they have a free weekend with coach Darko Bucan and assistant Niall O’Reilly preparing their team for next week’s home clash against Scott’s Lakers Killarney.