Cork basketball: John Coughlan previews all the weekend action

John Coughlan looks ahead to a hectic schedule of games, including two derbies: Fr Mathew's v Brunell and UCC Demons v Fr Mathew's
Cork basketball: John Coughlan previews all the weekend action

GiGi Smith, The Address Glanmire, drives at Brunell. Picture: Larry Cummins.

WHEN news filtered through from Castleisland last week that Fr Mathew’s lost to St Mary’s in the Women’s Super League it sent shockwaves through the basketball fraternity.

Newly promoted St Mary’s were demolished by 71 points seven days earlier, but the Kerry club put that behind were deserving 14-point winners.

It has been a tough start for Mathew’s new coach Niamh Dwyer who has been preparing her team for tomorrow’s derby against Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell.

“It was a terrible experience; one that I hope will not happen again this season, but we had a meeting after the game and there will be a change of tactics as what we are doing is not working,” Dwyer said.

“We have got to get back playing as a unit as our first two games have been below the standard I have set for this group and Brunell will be the acid test for us.”

The mood in the Brunell camp is positive, but coach Timmy O’Halloran knows it’s a dangerous time to be playing Fr Mathew’s after their two defeats.

“I was happy with the manner we took the game to Glanmire, but we didn’t win and that’s why this game is so important to us,” O’Halloran said.

The Brunell chief has two decent Americans in Shannon Ryan and Kwanza Murray and he will be hoping that both players put in a huge shift.

 Kwanza Murray, Singleton's SuperValu Brunell. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Kwanza Murray, Singleton's SuperValu Brunell. Picture: Larry Cummins.

Hard to know where it’s gone wrong for Fr Mathew’s in the last fortnight, but their lack of depth seems to be a problem.

Grainne Dwyer continues to put up good numbers and Shannon Brady recovered from her poor opening game against Trinity Meteors to lead the scoring in the Castleisland defeat.

The other American, Trish Byrne, is a former Brunell player, but she has made a slow start in Mathew’s colours.

It’s a huge weekend for both Cork clubs; it’s a double-header due to the upcoming break for international basketball in November.

It will be a difficult trip to Clontarf on Monday to play Killester for Fr Mathew’s, it’s a venue that’s given many sides problems over the years.

Killester’s American Myah Taylor looks a talented signing and with Mimi Clarke having lots of experience in this league, they could pose the Cork side problems.

On Monday the Parochial Hall will host a cracking game when the champions DCU Mercy are in town for a clash against Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell.

The Cork side are a bogey team for DCU Mercy who this year are relying on Americans Bailey Greenberg and Alarie Mayze, but their credentials will be tested by the Brunell duo of Ryan and Murray.

Meanwhile, it has been an eventful week for The Address UCC Glanmire as their Canadian professional Taylor Claggett decided that playing in Ireland was not for her and she duly departed. 

Tomorrow, Glanmire have a tough test when they welcome Killester to Upper Glanmire Sports Complex in what should be a competitive Women’s Super League clash.

There has been plenty of activity at the Glanmire club this week as they are striving to sign a player to replace Claggett. For coach Mark Scannell it was a shock when his player notified him of her decision to quit the club. Claggett did not start in recent weeks but with so many quality Irish players at the post that wasn’t a huge surprise.

“Taylor was a nice girl who was working hard but she approached me last weekend and told me of her decision to return home and although we wanted her to stay she had her mind firmly made up,” said Mark Scannell. 

The Glanmire chief knows Killester are a side capable of posing problems. 

“We know Killester have a quality American in Myah Taylor and Mimi Clarke is a player who knows this league so well and we have got to be at it early doors to knock them out of their stride,” said Scannell.

There will be no time for Glanmire to rest on their laurels as they head to Kildare for a noon bank holiday Monday clash against Liffey Celtics.

This season Liffey Celtics have hired Ioannis Liapakis as head coach and are always difficult opposition on their home court.

DIVISION 1 DERBY

There is also a second derby game at Mathew’s Arena tomorrow (7.45pm) in the Men’s Division 1 when Fr Mathew’s host UCC Demons.

Fr Mathew’s got their season off to a good start last weekend when defeating St Paul’s Killarney and Demons also had a 100% winning start. The Model Farm Road club have signed a hard-working American in Jonathon Garcia and he will make his Demons counterpart Andre Kennedy work hard.

Kennedy although finishing with 20 plus points against Waterford Vikings on Sunday last has been a huge disappointment. The one negative for Demons is they play Ulster University in the National Cup on Sunday week at the Mardyke Arena and their hesitancy to replace might come back to haunt them.

Kyle Hosford is strolling through games as the opposition for Demons so far has been weak but this is a different ball game and he is sure to be tested by the eager Mathews defence.

Mathew’s coach Darko Bucan and assistant Niall O’Reilly donned Demons colours for a number of years but that will count for nothing as both teams will be going full pelt.

MEN'S SUPER LEAGUE

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig will hope to maintain their unbeaten record in the Men’s Super League when they entertain NUIG Maree tomorrow at Ballincollig Community School.

It has been a great start to the campaign for Ballincollig but coach Kieran O’Sullivan believes there are no easy games in the Men’s Super League.

“We are happy with the start but there is no complacency going to creep into our game as many of the sides in this league are evenly matched,” said Kieran O’Sullivan.

Looking back on the Killorglin game coach O’Sullivan believes the performance of American Andre Nation deserves a special mention.

When we needed inspiration Andre produced some wonderful moves and baskets and Adrian O’Sullivan was also back to his best but look this is a team game and at the moment we are in a good place."

Looking ahead to the NUIG Maree game coach O’Sullivan believes they will have to come out firing against a very balanced side.

“They made life difficult for Neptune but fell short in the last quarter and that’s a warning for us as we know they have talent capable of posing us problems.” 

The westerners have decent Americans in Jeryn Lewis and Deandre Jackson and Balllincollig will have to be at it in defence to curb their threat.

On present form, it's hard to look beyond a Ballincollig win.

C & S Neptune travel to play Tralee Warriors. The cauldron of the Tralee Sports complex is a difficult venue for any side to win at and Neptune will need to be at their best to overcome the Warriors.

The Warriors are rumoured to have recruited a second American but their first signing Aaron Calixte is a serious talent that has the ability to light up many venues around the country in this campaign.

It will be interesting to see if Kieran Donaghy returns to the basketball floor after helping his club Austin Stacks win the Kerry Senior football championship.

This is the first of two big games against Cork opposition as next week they will host Ballincollig in the opening round of the National Cup.

Credit to the Neptune player-coach Colin O’Reilly he is very professional in how he sets up his team.

Looking ahead to the game assistant coach Darren Geaney believes Neptune are progressing.

“Look we know its early days and we are also aware that Tralee Warriors will be difficult opposition on their home court but we have no fear of them as we give all teams the respect they deserve,” said Darren Geaney.

The return of Catalonian guard Aleix Tarradellas will be a huge boost for Neptune as he is close to full fitness and this is a game that could well go down to the wire.

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