The final four teams to compete in the Men’s Champions Trophy were finalised after both DCU Saints and JM&L Auctioneers Titans progressed when they overcame Men’s Division One League Winners, Maree and Men’s Premier League side, Bord Gais Neptune, respectively.
This weekend, DCU Saints were forced to work hard for their win when they made the trip to Galway but eventually came out on top 63-83, Eoin Quill putting in a stellar performance by netting a cool 27 points for his side on the night.
Head coach of DCU Saints, David Donnelly, said, “It was an intense game and our 20-point win does not reflect the closeness of the game at all, it was very competitive from start to finish.
“We did start the game strong and went 10-0 so that ten point lead acted as a buffer for us throughout the game. Although we went up 20 points early in the fourth quarter they pulled it back to nine points at one stage but we managed to stretch it out once more.”
However, the surprise result of the weekend was the Men’s National Shield Champions, JM&L Auctioneers Titans, defeating the Premier League side, Bord Gais Neptune. Many believed the Cork side would sail into the next round but the character and skill of Titans was too much for them to overcome.
Paul Freeman, head coach of JM&L Auctioneers Titans, said, “We knew that if we wanted to beat Neptune that we needed to start strong and maintain it for the entire 40 minutes.”
“We came into the game with tough defence which forced them to turn the ball over and gave us some nice looks at the basket and we took the lead early in the game by almost 15 points.”
“Neptune did manage a brief comeback but we fought through it with Chris Coyne and Tomas Mitkus keeping us in the game.”
There was also plenty of action in the Men’s League Cup after four very exciting quarter-final games took place. UCD Marian secured their semi-final playoff fixture when they took out Swords Thunder, 75-85. UL Eagles had a more comfortable win over Team Garvey's St Mary's 55-85.
Dublin Inter progressed to the next round after their win over C&S Blue Demons 62-73 however, the League Cup fixture between Team Left Bank Kilkenny and Belfast Star was abandoned in the last quarter after the back board broke. The match report will go to the NLMC and a decision will be made early next week as to what action will be taken next.
This now pits Dublin Inter against UCD Marian. UL Eagles must wait to find out who they will be taking on.
In the Women’s Premier League two nail-biting semi-finals occurred when UL Huskies edged passed Killester, 63-50 and Team Montenotte Hotel Cork came away with a well-deserved win over DCU Mercy, 54-65.
Head coach of UL Huskies, James Weldon, said, “That was a really fantastic game to be part off, with seven minutes to go it could have went either way.”
“I think our defence played a big part in the second half and enabled us to limit them to just 14 points over the two quarters. A lot of that comes down to our strength and conditioning and our ability to keep that intensity going until the final whistle.
Meanwhile another chapter was added to the rivalry between DCU Mercy and Team Montenotte Hotel Cork when the ladies from the rebel county fought tooth and nail to come away with a win, 54-65 and book a place in the final against UL Huskies.
Paul Kelleher, head coach of Team Montenotte Hotel Cork, said, “The game started sloppy for both teams but we managed to fight through that and gain some composure and control at the end of the first quarter.”
“Looking back on the game we definitely gave them too many open looks and if they had of been a little bit hotter it would have done serious damage. DCU Mercy applied a lot of pressure on us and we probably didn’t handle it very well. They made a break for us but we stayed strong throughout it.”
“Our role players all stepped up in this game but so did our bench, they were super. It’s been a good year so we are looking forward to the final game next weekend.”
Elsewhere, Tralee Imperials booked their place in the Women’s Division One Final when they overcame local rivals, Team Tom McCarthy’s St. Mary’s, 44 – 59. They will now take on Portlaoise Panthers in the final next weekend.