Women’s and men’s U20 semis to serve upcracking encounters over the weekend

Women’s and men’s U20 semis to serve upcracking encounters over the weekend

Brunell's Lauryn Homan gets off her past against DCU Mercy during the Women's Super league at The Parochial Hall.  She will be a key player for the U20 team this weekend.

A big weekend for Cork sides in the Men’s and Women’s U20 National Cups with cracking semi- finals scheduled for the Parochial Hall over the next two days.

In the Women’s U20 National Cup Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell clash with Portlaoise Panthers and for the Brunell assistant coach Edel Thornton this game will all be about passion and pride for the respective sides.

“We have had three games in the build- up to this semi-final as we got got over Killester, Limerick Celtics and Meteors and to be honest the team have progressed but now this is the acid test against a very good Portlaoise side,” said Edel Thornton.

Ironically, Portlaoise Panthers defeated Brunell in 2019 when the sides met in U18 Women’s National Cup semi- final at this stage of the championship but Thornton is confident they have improved since that defeat.

“Of course Portlaoise will be confident of winning as the majority of their side play consistently at national league level but Meteors underestimated us in the quarter final and I do believe we have it in our locker to upset the odds,” added Thornton.

Kelly Sexton, Lauryn Homan, Mia Finnegan and Lauren Crean-Hickey are all part of the Singleton's SuperValu Brunell Super League team and Thornton believes the experience they are gaining could be invaluable in this game.

“All the girls are involved in the Super League squad and that should be a huge plus for them as Portlaoise Panthers team are competing in the Women’s Division One and are battle hardened.” 

Lauryn Homan has started a few Super League games for Brunell but Thornton insists she has a different role at this level.

“I think Lauryn knows she needs to be a leader at this level and it goes without saying she will have a huge part to play in this game.” 

 Jack O'Leary, UCC Demons in action against Limerick Celtics at the Parochial Hall, Gurranabraher. Pic: Larry Cummins. UCC Demons vs Limerick Celtics in the Basketball Ireland National League.
Jack O'Leary, UCC Demons in action against Limerick Celtics at the Parochial Hall, Gurranabraher. Pic: Larry Cummins. UCC Demons vs Limerick Celtics in the Basketball Ireland National League.

Preparations for both teams have been hampered with the present Covid pandemic and that makes the game all that bit more interesting.

“I really cannot speak about Portlaoise Panthers but I think the majority of clubs around the country have been affected over the Christmas period but it is what it is and we will have to grin and bear and get on with it.” 

In the Men’s U20 semi-final we have an all Cork derby with UCC Demons taking on championship favourites Ballincollig on Sunday morning.

Demons are the surprise package in this championship having defeated highly rated Dublin teams Templeogue and Eanna in the previous rounds.

Coached by Shane McCarthy the Demons chief believes have it all to do against their Cork rivals.

“We have lost to Ballincollig already this season and we certainly know they are a formidable unit with some excellent shooters and defence will play a major part if we are to upset the odds,” said Shane McCarthy.

Demons have a solid point guard in Jack O’Leary and Mathew McCarthy is an excellent shooter.

Looking through the rest of the squad Ben Horgan, Daryl Cuff, James Tobin and Jordan Ukah are all underage again next season and this campaign will them key experience going forward.

“The reality is that we have done well enough so far in the championship but this is the acid test and 40 minutes of basketball at 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning at the Parochial Hall can sometimes throw up the unexpected,” added McCarthy.

Demons have quality up and coming players that augurs well for the future of the club.

“We have some very good underage players and even in my squad Daryl Cuff who has just turned 16 is a serious talent and hopefully we have built a good foundation for the coming years.” 

Ballincollig under coach Daniel O’Sullivan have a well- balanced side with Colm Blount and Sean O’Flynn their key scorers.

The main difference between the sides is Ballincollig are taller and have some serious shooting power that Demons will have to nullify to have any chance of getting the all- important win.

Hugh Murphy brings the mettle to the Ballincollig side in defence and he will most likely go head to head with Jack O’Leary.

Colm Blount of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in action against Andrew McGeever of LYIT Donegal during the Hula Hoops Men's Presidents' Cup Semi-Final match between LYIT Donegal and Tradehouse Central Ballincollig at Parochial Hall in Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Colm Blount of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in action against Andrew McGeever of LYIT Donegal during the Hula Hoops Men's Presidents' Cup Semi-Final match between LYIT Donegal and Tradehouse Central Ballincollig at Parochial Hall in Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Killian O’Connell, Issac Eroutteh and Brendan Douanla are also experienced campaigners in the Ballincollig squad in a team that has quality running through it.

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