COURTYARD Liffey Celtics are looking for a double success at the National Cup semi-finals in Cork this weekend as their senior and Under-20s sides are both in action.
The Under-20s take on Portlaoise Panthers on Saturday morning before the big clash of the evening sees the Celtics take on DCU Mercy at the Mardyke Arena in UCC.
It’s somewhat of a grudge match for senior manager Mark Byrne, who saw his side eliminated in the first round by DCU last year.
They bounced back to top the Super League regular season table, only to be downed by UCC Glanmire in the final at Waterford IT.
This season has proceeded along a similar pattern on the league front, with Celtics again leading the way with nine wins from nine, with DCU hot on their tails.
Byrne is wary of the north Dublin side’s ability to play at a frenetic tempo and says game management will be key if they’re to reach only their second-ever National Cup final.
“In a way it’s completely new,” Byrne tells the Dublin Gazette.
“They have different players and we have different players, although the core of both sides is probably the same.
“One of the things we need to learn from last year is to manage the tempo of the game. If there’s one area, looking back on last year’s game, they managed well it was the tempo.
“If it’s a helter-skelter, high-paced tempo, we need to be mindful of that as that’s one of their strengths when they press teams.”
The Celbridge side’s season so far – having won every game – is ideal preparation for a knock-out game of such import.
Byrne is keen to consign the first half of the season to the background for now, however, and says they’re determined to continue taking it one game at a time.
“It’s probably a bit of a cliché but we’re not thinking about our win/loss ratio – it gives us great confidence, but on one level it’s in the past at this stage.
“It’s great that it’s gone well for us but we’re really focusing on January, when the Cup comes to a conclusion with the final at the end of the month, and hopefully we’ll be in it.
“Half of it is in the head, in terms of the mental approach and attitude of the players.
“If we bring a high level of intensity ourselves, we know we’ll cause DCU problems, and equally I’m sure they’ll say the same about us.”
Key to Liffey Celtics’ chances will be the efforts of centre Sorcha Kiernan, who will have only a few hours recovery time as she lines out for both the under-20s and senior side.
“We have two or three of that Under-18 team involved with us. Sorcha is probably the most well-known of them. We’ll definitely have one eye on the Under-20 game.
“Sorcha would be starting five for us and is one of our key players. Being young, it’s great for her to have the two games to be involved in.”