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Weekend's Basketball preview

Updated: Thursday, 08 Mar 2012 20:59

Mark Keenan - "We will have to contain Jermaine Turner, Pete Madsen and Robbie Clarke if we want to progress to the semi-final stage"
Mark Keenan - "We will have to contain Jermaine Turner, Pete Madsen and Robbie Clarke if we want to progress to the semi-final stage"

UL Eagles’ hopes of a double face a difficult hurdle on Saturday night when Mark Keenan brings his side to Clontarf to face his former charges, 11890 Killester.

Killester may boast a better head to head record over Eagles in the league this season but they will still be reeling after their National Cup hopes were ended at the semi-final stage to the Limerick side in January.

A real boost for the Dubliners has been the return of Peder Madsen from injury and he is desperate to end the season with another league title.

“There is no doubt that we have done well,” said Madsen. “If you look back at the pre-season we were disappointing but we have certainly turned things around and but for a few games where we blew big leads could have won the Northern Conference.

“I honestly believe that on our day we are the best in the country, with Jermaine and Kieran inside and we have some super shooters,” added Madsen.

“We must take care of the ball and if we do that I think we will get a positive result particularly at home.”

Eagles ended their ten-year wait for a trophy in February when they claimed the 2012 National Cup title at the expense of UCC Demons, and their Head Coach, Mark Keenan, is aware a similar performance will be required if they are to eliminate the league holders and his former side, Killester.

“Killester have put some good results together in the last few weeks and showed some great form this past weekend by beating Northern Conference Champions DCU Saints,” said Keenan.

“We will have to contain Jermaine Turner, Pete Madsen and Robbie Clarke if we want to progress to the semi-final stage.

“I do believe we have the capability to go to Killester and get the desired result but we will need to work hard this week in training to prepare as best we can.”

The winner of this quarter-final will travel to Cork on St Patrick’s weekend for a semi final date with UCC Demons.

Bord Gais Neptune will carry the tag of favourites against a UCD Marian side, who will see the play-offs as a fresh start to what has been a stuttering season.

On the final weekend of the regular season, Neptune lost their Cork derby to UCC Demons but bounced back to defeat Moycullen and ensured second place in the Southern Conference and more importantly home advantage in the quarter-finals.

“I watched UCD against Demons and they showed me enough to suggest we will have to be very careful as they have some serious shooters,” said Neptune Head Coach Mark Scannell.

Neptune brought in American Michael Bonaparte to replace Ron Thompson and Scannell is hoping his new recruit will rise to the occasion.

“Michael is giving us more options and I saw some signs last week that my players are beginning to find their range outside the perimeter,” added Scannell.

“Basically, I feel that defence will be the key to winning this game as UCD have players that will punish us if we are not ready to play.”

UCD Marian qualified for the play-offs by virtue of a third place finish in the Northern Conference and their Head Coach Fran Ryan admits his side will require an improvement if they are to upset the odds and overcome a strong Neptune side.

“I thought it was very important for us to win one of last three games – which we failed to do— from a psychological angle failing to have won recently definitely makes believing harder,” said Ryan.

“Notwithstanding all the above Neptune have made a big call in changing their American and means we play a team we have not played yet this season

“I think Ger Noonan is their absolute key player and when saints kept him quiet in Dublin they lost their momentum and belief.”

In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, DCU Mercy will be favourites to prevail against a Meteors side they have already enjoyed two wins against this season.

“We would be foolish to underestimate Meteors as they have good young players coming through their ranks and it’s a case of giving them the respect they deserve,” said Mercy Head Coach Mark Ingle.

The prize on offer is a trip to face Team Montenotte in Cork on St Patrick’s weekend.

“We are very happy with our progress and that we made the play offs,” said Meteors Head Coach Hugh Kilbride. “We are very aware of the huge past we have with away games to DCU and it will be tough.”

11890 Killester will pose Waterford Wildcats a few problems at Clontarf as the Waterford coach Tommy O’Mahony looks forward to a mouth-watering quarter final.

“Killester are always tough on their home court but I thought we got back to playing near our best level against Meteors last week,” O’Mahony said.

A huge blow for Killester is the continued absence of Ashling Sullivan through injury but the Dubliner is confident her team-mates can make their home advantage count.

"It is a tough call but we beat them already at home and I know the crowd will be really behind us," said Sullivan.

"We have to get stuck in and if we do that and stop their big players I believe that we will win."

The bottom four teams in the Nivea Womens SuperLeague are involved in Shield semi-finals with Singletons Supervalu Brunell hosting Liffey Celtics.

Liffey Celtics shocked Brunell last week and coach Tomas Ilves will be hoping for a repeat performance.

In the second semi-final Ulster Rockets will fancy their prospects of defeating Oblate Dynamos following their impressive performance against UL.

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