Anticipation is high over this weekend's ESB Men’s Superleague, after the opening games threw up some surprises. Double winners Killester got beaten in their opening game against a revitalised UCD Marian. Bottom of the table last year, Gleneagle Killarney defeated St Vincent’s, while pre-season favourites Waterford Crystal, went down to a superb Tolka Rovers.
Hibernian UCD Marian v Burger King Limerick
Hibernian UCD Marian look set to introduce a new element to their team for this weekend's clash with BurgerKing Limerick at UCD. Despite a good win last weekend over reigning champions Dart Killester, Marian look set to make a change to one of their Category 2 signings for their first home game of the season. 6'9" Torian Richards, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, is bound for the South Dublin club, and Marian hope to have him signed in time for this weekend's home clash against an in form Burger King Limerick.
6'6" Mario Woodson answered a late SOS call from his old University of Illinois teammate Cleotis Brown and arrived in Limerick in time to make his debut against Abbey Foods Sligo last weekend. Woodson was drafted in to replace B.J. McFarland, Limerick's 6'8" forward who was due to return for his second season with the club. But McFarland was unable to leave New York in time to make the season tip-off, and Woodson was called in as his replacement. Woodson had an excellent debut; scoring 25pts and helping Limerick to a comfortable win over the travelling Sligo side.
Frosties Tigers v Tolka Rovers
Frosties Tigers certainly look like the team to beat after their crushing defeat over Sx3 Star (Star of the Sea) last weekend. Tiger’s American signings of Jermaine Turner and Barnaby Craddock, accompanied by Canadians Paul Williscroft and Rob Schrurer proved too strong for the Northern side. The same squad will host Tolka Rovers this weekend, but following Tolka’s amazing performance last weekend, the Tigers will face a tough test.
Tolka Rovers scored 40 points in the first quarter of last week’s opening game against Waterford Crystal. The athletic pairing of 6’6’’ centre Zedrick Smith and 6’3’’ point guard Coy Patterson left pre-season favourites Waterford Crystal reeling, and playing catch up for the remainder of the game. Veteran Lenny McMillan showed his form, top scoring for the team with 18 points. Tolka Rovers will field the same squad this weekend and without doubt will give Tralee a run for their money.
Big Al’s Notre Dame v Dart Killester
Big Al’s will face their second big test of the season, after a disastrous start last weekend. Despite excellent performances from Anthony Jenkins and Brandon Hughes, Big Al’s let a 15pt lead slip away, only to be beaten by Neptune on the buzzer. It is hoped that the addition of 6’7’’ Anire Silva will settle the team this weekend. Silva has come from Portuguese club Barrierrense and should be a big bonus in defence for Big Al’s.
Killester’s defeat was the big shock of last weekend, but the team remains positive ahead of the Dublin Derby. John Quigley is unavailable this weekend, but the rest of the team are fit and well. Tuesday was the first time the entire squad trained together and coach Ken Black is adamant that last week’s outcome won’t be repeated too often this season.
Neptune v Sx3 Star
Gordon Fitzgerald played his final game with Neptune last weekend as he goes off on a tour of duty for six months. It is hoped that Fitzgerald will be back in time for the National Championships in March 2002. According to coach Noel Allen, “Fitzgerald will be a great loss as a player but also as a leader within the squad”. A very different team this season, Neptune got off to a good start against Big Al’s last weekend and fought back from a deficit to pick up two points.
Star look to be in difficulty early on in the season, carrying a number of injuries. International veteran Gareth Maguire is still struggling with an ankle injury. Derek Mcghee picked up an injury in training this week and it is looking increasingly likely that he will sit out this weekend. American Kenny McFarland has been carrying an injury for the last week and although he is expected to play this weekend, a worry for coach Danny Fulton nonetheless. Star have brought in 6’4’’ Greg Modzelewski for the weekend. Modzelewski played with English second division team Doncaster last season and it is hoped he will also get involved with coaching and development in the club.
St Vincent’s v Esat Business Demons
Injury problems ahead of the weekend are hampering the aspirations of both Vincent’s and Demons. Demon’s number one problem is the ankle injury Shane Coughlan picked up during the Neptune pre-season tournament. Coughlan has been since unable to train and is unlikely to play in Demons first game of the season.
Demon’s had a disappointing pre-season tournament, but Coach Pat Price is writing it off and expecting more of his squad this weekend. John Estick is back with Demons this season and his experience with the squad should pay the dividends this weekend.
St Vincent’s new signing Antoine St Clair is struggling with a back injury ahead of the weekend and is unlikely to play this weekend. Coach Mark Keenan is pleased with point guard Cory Dickerson who had a superb game last weekend.
ESB Women’s Superleague
Sasha Meteors v Tolka Rovers
5'5" American point-guard Molly Watson will make her ESB SuperLeague debut for Tolka Rovers this weekend in a tough Dublin derby clash against Sasha Meteors. Watson, who has been in Dublin since the start of the summer, was ineligible to play against Dart Killester last weekend. But the speedy shooter is cleared for Saturday’s away trip to Meteors, where she will get her first taste of basketball ESB Superleague style.Tolka will be without their 6'3" Dutch centre Elka Sneijder this weekend, but with a strong roster of 14 players to select from, it shouldn’t cause much of a problem for them.
Meteors are hoping to have veteran Karen Hennessey back from injury this weekend, but will have a tough game having picked up some injuries early on in the season. Lisa Andersson tore knee ligaments against Wildcats last weekend and is unlikely to return to the court for a number of weeks. Injured Eileen Bradley will also be unavailable this weekend.
Bausch & Lomb Wildcats v Glanmire
Under-19 players, Aideen Mackey and Lindsey Dunne will make their debut against Glanmire this weekend. Catriona White broke her nose against Meteors last weekend and is unlikely to play.
Glanmire were pleased with their debut performance in the women’s superleague. Although defeated by University of Limerick, Glanmire gave them a good run and brought the game within 3-points. This weekend they will have Tracey Rodgers added to the line-up.
Filed by Greg McKevitt