DCU MERCY and Pyrobel Killester are both on the road to Cork this weekend looking to swoop in on a Hula Hoops National final berth from their respective semi-finals.
They will take on Singleton SuperValu Brunell and Ambassador UCC Glanmire, respectively, hoping to advance their hopes of Paudie O’Connor Cup glory.
The 2018 champions, DCU, face off against the 2019 cup finalists from Brunell at 6pm on Saturday. DCU will be hoping they can make their way back to the National Basketball Arena this year after losing out in the semis last year to eventual winners, Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics.
Mark Ingle’s charges currently sit top of the league with just one loss to date this season and boast a hugely talented Irish core, along with two strong Americans in Meredith Burkhall and Ashley Russell.
Brunell are sitting eighth in the league but have been playing better than their record suggests. Although they are without the services of Amy Waters this season, Sinead O’Reilly has been a welcome addition, while Danielle O’Leary, Katie Walshe and Treyanna Clay have been key for them.
Looking ahead to the game, DCU’s Mark Ingle said: “We’re feeling great going in, but it doesn’t matter how we feel. It’s whether the players are ready and prepared and are in good shape – that’s what matters when it comes to big games.
“We’re looking forward to the game and I’d imagine Brunell will be fancying their chances, so it’ll come down to the day and hopefully we’ll have the work done.”
The first semi sees Killester face Glanmire in a hugely-anticipated battle at 2pm on Saturday. Both teams come into the game in strong league form, with Killester on a three-game winning streak, while Glanmire have dropped just one game in their last five.
Glanmire had the better of the exchanges in their last encounter in Cork in November, winning out 95-75 in an assured and clinical display.
Killester have regrouped well since then though and, with Irish stars Aisling McCann and Rebecca Nagle consistently shooting well, coupled with the threat of Americans, Adella Randle El and Christa Reed, they will be hoping that they can do enough this time around.
Glanmire also have many weapons in their ranks, with Shrita Parker one of the standout performers throughout the league at the moment, while fellow American Tatum Neubert has also been causing problems for other teams.
Killester boss Karl Kilbride cannot wait for the contest: “We’re obviously very excited. It’s been four frustrating years since we’ve been here and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.
“Glanmire will obviously be going into the game as hot favourites for a number of reasons, but while we may be underdogs, we certainly won’t lack confidence and a desire to win. We truly believe the best version of us is capable of beating any team on any day.”