National Cup preview: Rebel Wheelers basketballers well set to complete four in a row

Cork side can bring all their experience to Tallaght for the IWA decider against Limerick Celtics
National Cup preview: Rebel Wheelers basketballers well set to complete four in a row

Rebel Wheelers coach Alan Dineen and players after defeating Southeast Swifts. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE players, management, and supporters of the Rebel Wheelers will be hoping to complete the four-in-a-row of IWA National Cup title wins when they go head to head against Limerick Celtics at the National Basketball Arena this evening (6pm).

The Wheelers had a comfortable win over Southeast Swifts in the semi-final, but coach Alan Dineen believes this will be a far tougher assignment.

“This final will be true test, as Limerick Celtics are second in the league and have a number of experienced players who are capable of posing us problems,” Dineen said.

The sides have clashed previously in the league and Dineen believes it was a real battle to see off the Shannonsiders.

“We played them in our first game and we made it hard for ourselves, as things didn’t go to plan on the day, but I honestly think we are a completely different team now and we will hopefully see a different side in this final.”

Rebel Wheelers' Jack Mangan shoots. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Rebel Wheelers' Jack Mangan shoots. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Dineen knows that Celtics will be very much up to dethrone his side, but in his own words, as the season is maturing, players are getting into the groove.

“We played well enough in the semi-final, but we have to be honest and admit they were one of the weaker teams in the championship, but some of the basketball we played would have troubled better sides.”

This season former Neptune star Adam Drummond is part of the Wheelers squad following his life-changing accident in 2021, and Dineen believes he is a huge asset.

“Adam is slowly adapting to wheelchair basketball and I think, in the semi-final at the Neptune Stadium, it was always going to be a hard game for him, but he slowly grew into it.

“The knowledge that Adam has brought is unbelievable and I think he could play a major role for us in this final.”

Players like Derek Hegarty, Conor Coughlan, Dylan McCarthy, and Dylan Quinn are quality players who have lit up basketball headquarters for the last three years.

Rebel Wheelers' Derek Hegarty racing onto the ball from Southeast Swifts' Adam Homan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Rebel Wheelers' Derek Hegarty racing onto the ball from Southeast Swifts' Adam Homan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Preparations for the final haven’t changed for the Wheelers; they train three times weekly and although the intensity has increased, the mood in the camp gets stronger as the final closes in.

“The good thing about this squad is they are young, and for me as a 29-year-old, being the eldest shows the lads are young fit and ready and I am sure there is a lot more championships left in them.

Having good camaraderie is important in any squad and thankfully this group of players all get on and the focus right now is all about winning the National Cup.”

The Cork side departed for Dublin this morning and will stop for a bite to eat before making their way to Tallaght for the big game.

HUGE

In previous years the Rebel Wheelers have always brought huge support to Dublin and another large Cork contingent is expected to make their way to the capital.

“The amount of loyal fans that include members and families is extraordinary and on each occasion we have won they have always been there for us.

“We will give it our best shot and all I can promise is my players will leave everything on the court.”

  • Verdict: Rebel Wheelers.

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