DCU Saints will take on UL Eagles in the final of the 2012 Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague after they beat UCD Marian 82-55 on Sunday.
The Saints haven’t tasted league success since 2006, but face a formidable outfit in the shape of UL Eagles in Friday’s final, who they have already lost twice to this season.
"We are very happy with the performance," said Saints head coach David Donnelly, who was a key part of the Saints squad that last won the league crown in 2006. "I was worried as we have been a little inconsistent towards the end of the season, but I think the guys have been waiting for this one and I am delighted with the effort they put in and in particular the defensive end of our game.
"Eagles is going to be an extremely tough test, they have already beat us twice in the league and are a much improved outfit this season with the likes of Robert Taylor in their squad.”
DCU Saints justified their favourites tag in the first quarter, leading 29-18, before they extended their advantage at the break to a healthy 14 points.
The Northern Conference were proving far superior than their opponents with UCD having to make up a massive 21 points heading into the final quarter at 63-42. It was a gap they couldn’t make up and Saints ran out comfortable 82-55 winners.
UL Eagles inflicted more woe on UCC Demons to book their place in the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague final following an excellent 85-57 win away to UCC Demons on Sunday.
The Eagles, who claimed this season’s National Cup by beating Demons, are on course for the double and face a DCU Saints side that boast a better head-to-head record this season.
"We were worried because Demons beat us after the cup final in the league," said UL’s Robert Taylor, who contributed 21 points in the win. "I lost a double in the past with UL so I am delighted to have come back and now be in with a chance of setting that record straight.
“We will have to approach the final the same way we have approached these big games with Demons. They are one of the best teams in the country this season and will be tough.”
UL Eagles had five points to spare at the end of the first quarter (24-19) with American Robert Taylor and Jason Killeen causing Demons plenty of problems.
UL maintained their good form into the second quarter and extended their lead to ten points with four minutes to go before the interval. They managed to maintain that lead to hold a 46-36 advantage at the break. Demons’ Kyle Hosford was keeping his side in the contest with some big threes.
Demons were finding baskets hard to come by in the third with a resolute Eagles defence helping them to an increased lead of 15 points at 64-49. Any chance of a comeback looked out of sight as Eagles lead by 23 with five minutes remaining, before they eventually ran out 85-57 winners.
Team Montenotte Cork have set up a repeat of the 2011 Nivea Women’s SuperLeague final after they beat DCU Mercy 79-68 in Sunday’s semi-final.
The Cork side’s dominance of the league ended at the hands of UL last year, but they will have the chance to make amends when they face James Weldon’s side in Friday’s final.
"Not many people gave us a chance of beating DCU and I'm sure not many will think we have a chance next week," said Montenotte head coach Cormac O'Donoghue.
"There is no pressure on us. The last two times we played UL, we were ahead at half-time, but we need to maintain that intensity for 40 minutes. UL are a phenomenal team but we are delighted to get to the final. We have a young team, who probably haven’t got the credit they deserve this season.”
An entertaining first quarter saw DCU Mercy lead by a solitary point (16-15). Montenotte started brightly, but Mercy pressed and good shooting from Sarah McGrath gave the Dubliners a slight advantage.
A combination of good defence and the likes of Claire Rockall dominating on the boards saw the lead turn in the favour of Montenotte (38-30).
Mercy responded in the third quarter and restored parity (53-53) with Suzanne Maguire and Shauna O’Connor converting a number of big three-pointers.
Montenotte refused to panic and with 3.38 left on the clock, they lead by nine points. There was to be no way back for Mercy, who had Helena Kenny, Lisa Palmer and Suzanne Maguire fouled out in a frustrating final quarter.
UL are on course for the treble after booking their place in the final following a comfortable 30 point (80-50) win at home to Waterford Wildcats.
This latest success was the Limerick club’s 34th consecutive win and meant they had now gone two entire seasons without losing at home.
The signs were ominous early on when UL raced into a 9-0 lead with Louise Galvin and Rachel Clancy to the fore. Veteran campaigner Jenny Coady did her utmost for Wildcats, but she was unable to stop the reigning champions from progressing.
“I thought this was probably the most complete display since we won the cup,” said UL head coach James Weldon. “I thought that everyone was tuned in for the 40 minutes and nobody let their guard down.
“There is nothing like winning and it breeds confidence so hopefully we can carry it into another massive night at the National Basketball Arena next Friday.”