As the curtain draws on another weekend of SuperLeague action, it's last year’s league champions UL Eagles that are firmly perched at the top of the men’s table.
The Eagles had the daunting task of taking on Bord Gais Neptune this weekend, the same team that stole the National Cup from them only two weeks previous.
The pressure was on from the start for the Limerick side as they looked to reverse the cup result without the help of Scott Kinevane who suffered an injury just before the game started and without the experience of Matt Hall who was sidelined from a knee injury in Cork the previous weekend.
At half-time only three points separated the sides as the Eagles trailed 30-33. The close game continued into the third as both teams recorded 19 points apiece to see Neptune ahead 49-52.
With the last quarter neck-and-neck the Eagles managed to pull away in the last minute and recorded a 69-65 victory over the Cork men.
Speaking after the game, head coach of UL Eagles Mark Keenan said: “It was a great battling performance. Both teams really wanted to win this one and brought a huge amount of intensity to the game.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we fought until the end and ground it out, everyone really stepped it up a level tonight to secure this much needed win for us.
“We are one step closer to retaining our title as league champions. We will take each game as it comes, but it is in our hands now to close out this season.”
Elsewhere, UCD Marian surprised fans with an impressive win over a strong UCC Demons side on a scoreline of 84-75.
Coming into the game off the back of a win over DCU Saints on Thursday, Marian had set themselves up nicely to challenge Demons.
UCD Marian’s head coach, Fran Ryan said, “In my opinion, DCU are probably the best balanced team in the league with the deepest bench this season. To come away from their home gym with a win is a great victory for us.”
Fran continued, “We had another great performance over Demons this weekend. Like all of the three encounters between the two teams this season the game was very close. This was the first time we managed it close it in our favour.”
“Since Christmas everyone has been really committed to implementing the changes that needed to be made. The mood is positive in the camp and we are looking forward to our next game.”
Meanwhile Killester fell to Moycullen in another close encounter when the Galway boys recorded a remarkable 67-72 win over the league vets.
With only a handful of points separating the sides throughout the game the battle between the teams was on from the jump until the final whistle.
Unfortunately for the Dubliners, even big numbers from Michael Bonaparte wasn’t enough to see them through as the red-hot hand of player-coach Salva Camps refused to ease up.
The boys from the west can now mark this season as their most successful to date in the Nivea Men’s SuperLeague as they record their sixth win this term.
Head coach, Salva Camps, was very proud of his side, “We did a great job at reading the game Killester gave us. Everyone came to play tonight and as a team we did an excellent job of crashing the boards and bringing pressure defence.”
In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague all eyes were on the DCU Complex when Team Montenotte Hotel Cork arrived to take on DCU Mercy.
The Cork side proved why they should be contenders for the league title after they controlled the tempo of the game from the beginning until the very end.
Team Montenotte cleared a nine-point win as the score finished 52-61 in their favour.
This result makes for a very interested build-up ahead of their clash with UL Huskies next weekend in Cork, when the two National Cup finalists battle it out once more.
Meteors also recorded another win on the bounce after they took on Liffey Celtics. The southsiders desperately needed the win to keep their playoff dreams alive and did so on a score-line of 76 – 51.
Head coach, Hugh Kilbride said: “It was important for us to come away with a win over Celtics. We played well, but only in patches and it was our defence that got us out of jail when we needed to break away.”
“Our American, Kaljo really stepped up for us tonight, she had a great game. With next weekend off we are setting our sights on our game against DCU Mercy in two weeks and looking forward to challenging them.”
It was also a busy weekend for Ulster Rockets who had two games on the road down south. Saturday night saw them fall to WIT Wildcats who recorded a vital win at home 66-63.
John Hayes, Wildcats head coach said: “It was a tough battle and Ulster played very well, but Deegan and Condrey really kept us in the game coming down the stretch – especially without Kavanagh this weekend.”
“Our defence in the third quarter is what gave us the edge, we won that quarter 16 – 4 and it was the only quarter we did win.”
Ulster Rockets bounced back from this narrow defeat the following day when they travelled to Cork to take on Singleton SuperValu Brunell and saw off the young side 76-60.
UL Huskies added another win to their season after they faced off with Killester in the IWA Clontarf. The Limerick side won 66-38.
Head coach, James Weldon said, “After a week off after the cup we were a little rusty but we played well. We had a very good third quarter defensively and everyone contributed to this win on the road.”