C&S UCC Demons and Killester both came through tough home tests at the weekend to remain joint leaders of the Basketball Ireland Men’s Premier League.
On Saturday night, Killester saw off a battling Templeogue outfit that refused to quit despite their underdog status while Demons had too much for Belfast Star in Cork on Sunday afternoon.
Both must now overcome one more weekend before what looks like a possible title deciding matchup in UCC’s Mardyke Arena on 2 March.
Coming out of the weekend just gone, Demons head coach Colin O’Reilly will probably be the happier, his side bouncing back well from their first loss of the season eight days earlier to defeat a dangerous Belfast Star.
Demons started the game well and weathered the Star comeback when it came to hold on for a 95-72 victory that Demons fans will hope can re-establish the swashbuckling confidence that their side showcased earlier in the campaign.
“It was a nice win against a very tough opponent,” said Demons player coach Colin O’Reilly, who contributed 30 points in the contest.
Killester on the other hand showed a surprising lack of killer instinct in handling Templeogue at home Saturday night, the game very much in the balance up to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“There are no easy games and Templeogue are a much improved side from when we played them early in the season but we didn’t play with the type of focus we had spoken about all week,” said Killester guard John Behan after the game.
“We are not thinking about [the Demons’ game] yet, we have a tough test in Galway next week against Moycullen who had a nice win over Templeogue a week ago.”
In Limerick, the battle for third place also heated us as UL Eagles defeated Bord Gais Neptune, moving to within two games of the Cork outfit.
The size and ease of UL’s 91–79 victory was the most surprising element of the result with Eagles leading throughout the second half by double digits.
Elsewhere in the Men’s Premier League, National Cup runners-up Dublin Inter notched a second straight league win by defeating SSE Renewables Moycullen while UCD Marian benefited from a strong performance from their bench players to see off DCU Saints.
“We had a rotation of nine players in the game and I cannot say even a small thing bad about any of them,” said Marian coach Ioannis Liapakis.
In the Women’s Premier League, defending champions UL Huskies took a major step towards capturing the 2014 regular season title and the much coveted first seed for play-offs with a home victory over DCU Mercy.
The sides had been tied atop the league table entering the contest but Huskies made home advantage pay, managing to break the deadlock late in the fourth quarter for a 71–64 win.
“I think we deserved our win in the end. It was a very physical game and we survived the different rocky patches and came through them,” said Huskies head coach James Weldon.
Offensively, Huskies were once again led by the outstanding trio of Aoife McDermott, Rachel Clancy and Rachael Vanderwal, who combined for 56 of UL’s 71 points.
All three are in the top five of scoring overall in the Women’s Premier League and came in for special praise from Weldon after Saturday’s top of the table clash.
“They have been doing the business for us all year. It is a credit to all three of them, the consistency of their performances.”
The only other game in the Women’s Premier League saw Liffey Celtics lift themselves off the bottom of the table with a 50 – 47 win over WIT Wildcats.