IT’S the final weekend of the regular season in the Men’s and Women’s Super League with Energywise Ireland Neptune facing their day of destiny tomorrow when they travel to champions Tralee Warriors.
The cauldron of the Tralee Sports Complex is not a nice place to go to in the best of times and this do-or-die game is sure to attract the biggest attendance of the season to the Kerry venue.
There is little doubt that last week’s defeat for Neptune at Templeogue was probably the most disappointing in their many years at this level.
When you have four professionals and a semi-professional coach you expect a team of that quality to do the business against teams like Templeogue.
Granted, Templeogue had their Irish senior international Lorcan Murphy back in the squad, but in truth, the Dublin side is a shadow of the one that once was a leading club at this level.
The game was over in the first quarter as Templeogue jumped out at the Cork side who failed to respond when the challenge was put up to them. Their coach Colin O’Reilly will know that the buck stops with him and he will need his team to improve immensely if they are to deny Tralee the final play-off place.
The Kerry side will also be first to admit that their season didn’t go to plan with the selection of Americans and Bosmans not the right fit for the team. Kieran Donaghy, who turned 40 last week, still has a huge influence on this squad and his presence could be crucial if they are to halt Neptune.
For Neptune to win they will need to play with passion and pride which is not beyond them as they have quality players.
Emporium Cork Basketball lost another tight game on the road last weekend when going down to Eanna, but they should finish their campaign on a winning note when they host Bright St Vincent’s tomorrow at the Ballincollig Community School.
Ballincollig haven’t had the season they envisaged before the Christmas break, but they are still competitive and barring a total meltdown they should dispose of Saints with relative ease.
Credit to Ballincollig, they bounced back following their defeat at Eanna to defeat Killester on Sunday and barring a meltdown they should clinch third place in the conference.
UCC Demons will travel to Galway for a do-or-die game against University of Galway where a win at the Kingfisher venue will decide who will be crowned Southern Conference champions.
Demons defeated the Galway side earlier in the season and will go into the game with little fear of the National Cup champions.
The one problem Demons must sort out is their slackness in defence that’s allowing teams stay with them and this could well determine whether or not they can actually win the title.
Credit to coach Danny O’Mahony and assistant Stuart Rodgers, they have brought great togetherness within their squad that has put them on 10-game winning run.
Of course, many of the plaudits are going to praise the influence of American MJ Randolph and rightly so as he’s helped big time to turn Demons’ season in the right direction.
Randolph has been sensational, but in last week’s win against Belfast Star he looked lacklustre in defence and he will need to improve in that department for the remainder of the season.
On the other side of the coin, Randolph wasn’t the only Demons player to underperform and O’Mahony will be expecting a huge improvement going forward.
It will be a celebratory afternoon at the Mardyke Arena on Sunday when Glanmire host Waterford Wildcats in their final Women’s Super League game.
Champions elect Glanmire have been consistent and their win at DCU Mercy on Sunday last was down to sheer grit.
The one guarantee they will get against Wildcats is a test in the physicality stakes as their Waterford opponents are well able to mix it.
The Glanmire coach Mark Scannell will have his team prepared and Cork basketball fans should make their way to the Mardyke in saluting the champions at the presentation.
Fr Mathew’s and Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell failed to make the top six and both will finish their season with trips on the road.
Brunell will complete their disappointing season when they play Trinity Meteors and Fr Mathew’s face cup champions Killester.