ONE of the biggest weekends in Irish basketball will see all three Cork clubs battling to make the last four of the Paudie O’Connor Women’s National Cup semi-finals.
Fr Mathew’s get the ball rolling tomorrow when they host WIT Waterford Wildcats at the Fr Mathew’s Arena (5pm).
The Cork side played Wildcats last weekend and after trailing by 12 points following a poor third quarter, they eventually lost 74-72.
The National Cup has always had a special place in the heart of coach Niamh Dwyer and she is looking forward to this game.
“I was disappointed in the manner my team went down last week, but we do know that we can put it right because, as a player, if you are not ready to play hard in a home cup quarter-final you are involved in the wrong sport,” said Dwyer.
The Mathew’s chief believes the number one priority will be to learn from the errors made in the league defeat.
Dwyer added: “Our turnovers were off the charts and look, this is not a criticism of my players, these are just facts and that will have to be rectified to get the all-important win.”
Grainne Dwyer is now in the twilight of her career, but she continues to register double figures and will be a key figure if Mathews are to book their place in the final four.
Wildcats are a physical side that will test the mettle of Mathews, but home advantage should sway it their way.
Verdict: Fr Mathews.
Singletons SuperValu Brunell will make the trip to Dublin tomorrow to play Trinity Meteors in another quarter-final.
When these teams clashed three weeks ago Brunell won by six points, but it was a scrappy game and coach Timmy O’Halloran will be hoping his side produce a better display in this game.
“I was pleased with the manner we saw off Killester, but that’s a closed chapter and we must be aware this game is a potential banana skin,” said O’Halloran.
The prize on offer is a possible semi-final clash against Cork rivals The Ambassador UCC Glanmire, but O’Halloran is urging his players not to look beyond this game.
“You got to take it one game at a time as Trinity Meteors have some decent players and we have got to be ready for what they are going to throw at us,” O’Halloran added.
The performances of the Brunell American pairing Kwanze Murray (49) and Shannon Murray (32) saw them chip in with 81 points, but on the other side of the coin, the remainder of the panel only tallied 26 points of the 107 scored.
Granted, you sign Americans to be your leading scorers, but O’Halloran will be aware that it’s rare to see Americans contribute in the manner that his pair did against Killester.
“Meteors are improving as the season matures and I will be hoping my players are ready for battle because sometimes cup games can go against the grain, but hopefully the girls will be fully tuned from tip-off.”
Edel Thornton is a wonderful talent and she will know better than most about the talent that Trinity Meteors have in their squad having played with them when they were promoted to the Super League.
If Brunell travel to the capital in the right frame of mind there is no reason why they cannot relish a cup semi-final in Cork come January.
Verdict: Singletons Supervalu Brunell.
There is also cup action in Cork on Sunday when The Address UCC Glanmire host IT Carlow at the Mardyke Arena (1.30).
Glanmire ambushed the Midlanders in a recent Super League game, but coach Mark Scannell believes his side will be taking nothing for granted.
“Look, IT Carlow have some decent players and they will have nothing to lose and plenty to gain to get a win over us, said Scannell.
The Cork side were involved in a titanic battle last weekend when defeating DCU Mercy and Scannell was pleased with his side’s performance, but he believes there is plenty room for improvement in some aspects of their game.
“I wasn’t overly happy with some of our defence, but overall, getting the win was crucial and now we must erase some of the errors that we are making.”
When you have Claire Melia in your team you are guaranteed double figures in points and rebounds and her class will surely see Glanmire over the line.
Verdict: The Address UCC Glanmire.