This weekend marked the beginning of the 2013/2014 Basketball Ireland National League and Sunday saw reigning National Cup Champions, Bord Gais Neptune, return home with an impressive 75-72 victory over newcomers Belfast Star in the Men’s Premier League.
Neptune came back from a six point deficit at half time to win and Mark Scannell, Bord Gais Neptune head coach, said: “It was a tight game, we were down six points but we found a way and got the result we wanted.
"I wasn’t too happy with our first half but our defence in the second half really turned the game around for us.
“Although we had a few out with injuries everyone stepped up so I’m happy with our performance overall.”
Elsewhere, the first Dublin derby of the weekend between newcomers Templeogue and last season’s beaten Champions Trophy finalists, DCU Saints, provided ample entertainment when the Saints beat a resilient Templeogue in front of a packed crowd in the Oblate in Inchicore, 84-79.
With the game tied at the half it looked as though it could go either way. However, it was the experience of DCU’s core players that enabled them to walk away with the three points that they needed.
Reflecting on the victory, DCU Saint’s head coach, David Donnelly said: “It was a high scoring game and we were executing very well in the first quarter.
“However, when the game was tied at half time we decided to concentrate on our defence in the third quarter and it really worked in our favour.
“Although the game was close throughout we never went behind which was great for us as we have five or six new guys on the team this year.
"Templeogue worked us until the last minute and never let up. It was great to come out of a game like that with the win.”
Meanwhile, Killester started their season campaign strong with a convincing win over Dublin Inter 79-61 in the IWA Clontarf.
Jonathon Grennell, head coach of Killester was happy with his team’s showing: “That performance was a great start to our season, Michael Bonaparte and Isaac Westbrooks really stepped it up for us from the jump with Alan Casey securing some key points in the first half also.
“We moved the ball well and controlled the tempo but as I said before, we’re still inconsistent. There were some parts of the game that we played great but some poor parts too.
“We know what we want to achieve so we’re moving in the right direction.”
In the final Men’s Premier League fixture of the weekend, UL Eagles ran out 70-57 winners over Moycullen.
In the Women’s Premier League, reigning National Cup and League Champions, UL Huskies continued their winning ways this weekend when they faced off with DCU Mercy and came out victors 75-57.
UL Huskies' head coach, James Weldon said: “Starting the season with a win like that against DCU Mercy is great for the team. Rachael Vanderwal got into foul trouble early in the game but it was great to see Kathryn Fahy step up to the mark when we needed her.
“When Rachael came back into the game her focus and determination ensured we came away with the win especially with Aoife McDermott doing such a good job inside.
"I am happy with the character the girls showed, it was a really team effort.”
Singleton SuperValu Brunell also recorded a win, 67-54, on the road away to Killester.
Speaking after the game, Kieran O’Leary, Singleton SuperValu Brunell’s head coach, said: “We started slow but when we stepped it up on defence our momentum picked up.
“Megan O’Leary was an outstanding asset to the team, a real driving force with 20 points under her belt. Amy Waters was also fantastic.
“We have more height this year which adds something extra to our game that wasn’t there last season.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Rockets started their campaign with a three-point win, 63-60, over Meteors.
Ulster Rockets head coach, Breda Dick, commented: “I am very happy with the performance and the result from the girls. We only had three players from last season playing today so it really was an entirely new experience for us.
“The girls came together and it was our defence that won it in the end. Mairead McNally, Kelly Shields and Susan Dick did a great job at getting scores on the board for us but Helena Fairbairn did an incredible job inside pulling down rebounds.
“I am really delighted to start the season with a win like that.”
DCU Mercy had a positive end to the weekend when they bounced back from their defeat to UL Huskies with a convincing 78-43 win over Liffey Celtics.
DCU Mercy head coach, Mark Ingle, said: “Having two games in the opening weekend is tough. After the loss to UL Huskies, the girls did a great job at refocusing and they bounced back to get the win.
"Both Lindsay Peat and Sarah Woods did a brilliant job at getting points up on the board for us and Ailish McLaughlin worked really hard inside on both ends of the floor.”