TRADEHOUSE Central Ballincollig are in the capital tomorrow as they bid to maintain their unbeaten record in the Men’s Super League with a tricky clash against UCD Marian in Belfield.
It has been a tremendous season to date for Ballincollig but coach Kieran O’Sullivan is urging his players to remain focused on the job in hand.
“I know people may say that UCD Marian are having a poor season but they are a very good side on their home court and we will have to be at our best to get the right result,” said O’Sullivan.
There is little doubt Ballincollig have the strongest squad in the Super League and their unbeaten record is no fluke.
Losing to Tralee Warriors in the opening round of the National Cup was disappointing but coach O’Sullivan is adamant the second round will be more difficult.
“When you are top of the table teams tend to up their game when they play you but the reality is that we will be prepared as we are maturing as a team and the players are mentally strong."
The mood in the UCD Marian camp is upbeat despite having a tough opening round of games but veteran Conor Meaney is confident they can have a stronger finish to the campaign.
“As a squad, I don’t think we have played the basketball we are capable of and having the league leaders Ballincollig coming to town for your opening game of 2022 is a game that will gauge where we really are,” said Meaney.
Meaney one of the most experienced players in the league praised Ballincollig for making such a big impression in their first season competing in the top flight.
“You have to give them credit as they have taken the league by storm and we will have to play a season-best even to compete with them."
National Cup finalists C & S Neptune will make the long trip north tomorrow for a Men’s Super League clash with Belfast Star.
Neptune were excellent for the majority of their cup semi-final win against NUIG Maree and assistant coach Darren Geaney believes this is the type of opposition they need before their cup final against Tralee Warriors.
“Belfast Star on their home court is always a tough test and I think the lads need it before the cup final and to ensure we keep within striking distance of the leaders,” said Geaney.
The present form of Neptune is exciting their fans but Geaney is adamant the players are keeping them firmly on the ground.
“We are not getting carried away as we have plenty of ball to play and our focus is totally on getting maximum points against Star."
It has been a tough season for Belfast Star with injuries ravaging their season and coach Adrian Fulton believes if he can some of these players back he would have a different team.
“It hasn’t been a good season as when you lose players like Paul Dick and Conor Quinn it's always going to hamper you and the Covid has also taken its toll but that’s the same for every team in the league,” said Fulton.
“Neptune have two quality Americans and two Catalonians in their side and with Roy Downey and Cian Heaphy playing the best basketball of their careers we have it all to do."
The basketball action starts tonight at the Mardyke Arena when Cork rivals UCC Demons and Fr Mathew's clash in the Men’s Division 1 National League at the Mardyke Arena (6.15pm).
Demons were delighted with their cup semi-final win over Sligo All-Stars and coach Danny O’Mahony will not be taking Fr Mathew's for granted.
“When we played them in the league and cup games we only won in the last quarter and to be honest they are one of the toughest sides we have played this season,” said O’Mahony.
The Sunday's Well club, who play Drogheda Wolves in the cup final, will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten run against a Mathews side that will be up for battle.
“The mood in our squad is all about positivity and this is a game we will be taking very seriously as we cannot look beyond the challenge that Mathew's are likely to pose us."