A basketball extravaganza at three Cork venues as the National Cup semi-finals are hosted on Leeside today and tomorrow in what should bring great excitement in all grades.
The Parochial Hall Gurranabraher will host the U18 and U20 Men’s and Women’s semi-finals with one Men’s President’s Cup game also at the northside venue.
It will be a debut for Upper Glanmire Sports Complex as they host a IWA semi-final as well as the President’s Cup clash between Ulster University and Malahide with both U20 Women’s games at the venue.
The Neptune stadium is bound to attract good attendances as they will host the semi-finals of the Men’s Pat Duffy and Women’s Paudie O’Connor games.
It will be an early morning start (10am) for the Rebel Wheelers in the Irish Wheelchair National Cup with a fourth consecutive title looming if they can reproduce their top form.
For the basketballers of Ballincollig playing under the Emporium Cork Basketball banner it will a huge evening as they get ready to face Dublin side Eanna.
This is the first time Ballincollig are contesting a semi-final at this level and assistant coach Daniel O’Sullivan will be hoping it will an evening to remember for the club faithful.
O’Sullivan said: “When we joined the Super League this is the game we dreamt that one day we would be competing in and although it will be a tough task there is no reason why we should be overawed.”
Eanna sadly will be without their Cork connection as former Neptune ace Sean Jenkins rolled his ankle in last week’s Super League win over Belfast Star.
Jenkins was outstanding in his teams quarter final win over Energywise Ireland Neptune and his absence is a huge blow to his team.
For the Eanna coach Darren McGovern it’s been an injury ravaged season.
McGovern said: “Hasn’t been good on the injury front as we have lost key players before big games but I have to rely on our squad and I have great belief that our players will step up to the plate.”
In the second semi-final Charlie Crowley’s NUIG Maree will be hotly fancied to see off Dublin side Bright St Vincent’s.
There will also be huge interest in the Women’s Paudie O’Connor semi-finals with the eagerly awaited clash between joint Super League leaders Trinity Meteors and DCU Mercy scheduled for a 3pm tip off.
Last season Claire Melia was part of the all- conquering The Address UCC Glannmire side that completed the Grand Slam but this season she moved to the capital to play with Trinity Meteors.
Meteors have looked a formidable unit in the Super League but ironically the only game they lost was to DCU Mercy.
For the DCU Mercy coach Mark Ingle this semi- final will be the acid test for his side.
Ingle said: “I think for all coaches and players playing at the Neptune stadium in a cup semi-final is always a special occasion and although we will have to be at our very best to win it is not beyond us.”
The second semi-final (12.30pm) will also be a highly competitive game with Waterford Wildcats under coach Tommy O’Mahony taking on the high scoring Killester side guided by the experienced Mark Grennell.