A HUGE weekend for the Cork basketball fraternity with four top games taking place on Leeside in the end of season semi-finals.
No doubt the Cork derby between Tradehouse Central Ballincollig and C & S Neptune at the Ballincollig Community School will take centre-stage tomorrow.
The biggest disappointment for Cork fans is that only 180 fans will be able to attend the game due to the small venue. There was an attempt to switch to a bigger capacity hall, but to be fair Ballincollig dug their heels in and refused the switch.
The adage 'don’t be trying to shut the gate when the horse has bolted' springs to mind in this farcical saga.
In all fairness, Ballincollig won more games than any other club and were crowned Southern Conference champions of the Super League and the prize on offer was a home quarter- and semi-final draw in the play-offs.
Getting back to the game and Ballincollig will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record going in what will be titanic battle.
In recent weeks, Adrian O’Sullivan has shown tremendous form and with Dylan Corkery also showing incredible skills in the art of rebounding and defending it has helped them maintain their serious title challenge. For Neptune to win they will need to restrict this duo but Ballincollig have a serious American in Andre Nation and keeping him nullified is easier said than done.
The one plus that Neptune have has been their form in the last three games, led by Roy Downey, and player-coach Colin O’Reilly will have his team primed for their Cork rivals.
The Mardyke Arena will host a double-header on Sunday with the Women’s Champion Trophy semi-final between The Address UCC Glanmire and DCU Mercy starting proceedings at 2pm.
Glanmire, who recently completed the Super League and Cup double, will want to complete the Grand Slam at the highest level of Women’s basketball in this country.
Credit to Mark Scannell he proved, without doubt, he is one of the best coaches at this level but on Sunday he goes head to head with his friend Mark Ingle. When these clubs meet friendship goes out the window but Glanmire are on a roll and its hard to see them being denied by their Dublin rivals.
The Glanmire Americans Carrie Shepherd and Tierney Pfirman have been wonderful signings both on and off court and they will want to finish the season on a high. When these teams clashed in the cup final they produced some wonderful basketball and this is another game that has all the ingredients of being a competitive game.
Another plus for Glanmire is their quality Irish players like Aine McKenna, Casey Grace and Claire Melia and that could spell trouble for DCU’s aspirations to win the final piece of silverware this season.
Next up is the Men’s Division 1 semi-final between UCC Demons and Malahide a clash that should generate a carnival atmosphere at the Mardyke.
Demons' form of late has been patchy and coach Danny O’Mahony will have to ensure his team are disciplined in what should be another physical battle. In some of the games that this scribe has witnessed this season some of the physicality wouldn’t go amiss at the Aviva and Demons will need to be mature in how they approach this fixture.
The prize on offer for the winners is a place in the Men’s Super League next season with both finalists getting rewarded with promotion and although Demons are presently off the pace they need to move up and avoid another season in the lower tier.
There is also action at the Parochial Hall on Sunday when Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell host Waterford Wildcats in the second semi-final of the Women’s Champions Trophy.
Brunell with the exception of their nightmare 46-point home defeat to Killester finished the season in style and if they come prepared they should book their place into the decider.
Americans Shannon Ryan and Kwanze Murray have been a revelation and with Edel Thornton, Lauryn Homan and Simone O’Shea all capable of putting up numbers they should have enough to see off their Waterford opponents.