Three Limerick clubs will compete in National Cup Semi Finals this weekend as the fight for silverware intensifies.
First up are UL Eagles in the Mens’ National Cup Semi-Final on Friday night. Training preparations have gone well but results on the court mean Paul Kelleher’s side will be underdogs when they take on UCD Marian at the Mardyke Arena at UCC. The Dubliners were winners at the UL Arena in the last game before Christmas while UL endured their seventh loss in a row when they faced Travelodge Swords last Sunday. They had been moving the ball well and were still in touch at half time before a season long issue reared its head.
“The third quarter has been our problem all year and we got completely turned over again,” said Paul Kelleher.
Swords went 20 points clear with 10 minutes to go and a late run of form by Orlando Parker wasn’t enough to yield a losing bonus point.
UL are now bottom of the league and Paul Kelleher conceded that the success of Eagles’ season will hinge on Friday’s result. “The first half of the year is gone and our rookies need to understand it’s time to step up. So who knows? Our season might turn this weekend. We’re looking forward to it. This team has a lot of guys who have been there and done that.”
Guys like Neil Campbell who’ll also be on the side line when Limerick Lakers face Belfast Star in the last four of the U-20 Men’s Cup. The two starting fives will be sprinkled with Men’s Premier League players. The UL Eagles Captain is Head Coach for Lakers but counts men like Krystian Burchardt, Patryk Lewandowski, Jamie McAuliffe and Patrick McCarthy as team mates in blue and yellow. Lakers made the semi-finals with wins over KCYMS of Killorglin and famed Dublin side St. Vincent’s.
UL Huskies take top billing on Saturday night when they meet Killester in the Women’s National Cup Semi-Final at Neptune Stadium. Huskies have appeared in the last three Cup Finals but Head Coach Dave Keogh knows a line needs to be drawn under that success. “This is a new team. It’s not a time for looking back. We know Killester well, the two teams match up well and the girls are ready to play.”
Last Saturday’s game against Team Montenotte Hotel showed why fans of Limerick’s Premier League Women’s team should temper their expectations for 2015. They led their great Munster rivals for the first quarter but misfired soon after and went down on a final scoreline of 61-33.
Optimism endures in the Limerick camp and Saturday’s game will be a different affair - there’s been little to separate Huskies and Killester all season and in Kelsey Harris, Huskies have one of the best scorers left in the competition.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 9
Men’s National Cup
UCD Marian v UL Eagles, Mardyke Arena, Cork - 7pm
SATURDAY, JANUARY 10
Women’s National Cup
Killester v UL Huskies, Neptune Stadium, Cork - 6pm
U-20 Men’s National Cup
Limerick Lakers BC v Belfast Star Mardyke Arena, Cork - 2pm