In one of the most dramatics weekends in recent memory, UL Eagles let a golden opportunity to wrap up the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague title slip through their fingers as they lost to a red-hot UCD Marian in Limerick.
Eagles took to the court knowing that a victory would win them the league after their closest challengers UCC Demons had suffered a shock loss in Galway to Moycullen.
Despite the incentive of achieving a historic repeat, the home side started flat and let the men from Dublin jump out to an early lead.
Apart from a purple patch late in the first half that actually had them leading at the break, Eagles played second fiddle to Marian for most of the contest with the visitors up seven entering the closing minutes.
An inspired Rob Taylor, who finished the game with 29 points, wouldn’t let his team lose that easily and converted an incredible three point shot to give the defending champions some hope late.
Big scores from Dan James and Thomas Viglianco for Marian quickly quelled that comeback however with Marian going on to win by six, 78-72.
While Eagles are still top of the table with just two weekends to go, the loss will frustrate their players and fans knowing that a win would have sealed the clubs first back to back Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague titles.
They had been handed that opportunity this weekend after their closest challenger, UCC Demons suffered a shock loss in Galway to a young Moycullen team.
Busy chasing fourth place and the final spot in the Champions Trophy, Moycullen’s work effort and fast paced style of play eventually proved too much for Demons as the westerners emerged victorious by five points, 85-80
To round of the weekend of upsets, Bord Gais Neptune lost at home to Dublin Inter to make it a losing weekend for all of the three top teams in the SuperLeague.
Standing in for the absent Irmantas Griskas, Inter’s temporary head-coach Toomes Iives pointed to his team’s improved fitness as a reason for the win.
The only fixture on Sunday handed Moycullen a chance to make it two wins from two and put them in themselves in the driving seat for fourth place.
However a determined DCU Saints proved too much for the westerners, winning 72-56.
In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, UL Huskies captured their third straight regular season crown defeating WIT Wildcats in Waterford on Friday night.
The Women’s SuperLeague will be decided by playoffs, meaning that while Huskies’ achievement is noteworthy, it was certainly never the ultimate goal.
While Huskies have top spot locked up, the fight for playoff positions is very much alive. It was important therefore for Wildcats to bounce back from Friday night’s loss with a win on Saturday versus Liffey Celtics.
Wildcats duly defeated Celtics 60-35, moving them up to fourth in the table and guaranteeing themselves one of the six playoff places.
On Sunday, DCU Mercy overcame a superb start to the game from their Dublin rivals Meteors to run out fourteen point winners 71-55.
Elsewhere, Team Montenotte Hotel Cork proved too good for a gutsy Ulster Rockets.
The ladies from Glanmire overcame a half-time deficit to win by 12 in Belfast while there was a win also for Killester who defeated Singleton SuperValu Brunell in a thrilling five-point game in Cork.