UCD in Thunder’s road

by Gazette Reporter

SWORDS Thunder will be hoping to deliver an early Christmas present to their supporters this Friday night when they take on UCD Marian in the National Cup quarter-final.
Having been beaten 83-71 by UCD in the National Premier Division earlier in the season, this game offers a chance of revenge to the Thunder. The fact that they sit just one place above their Southside rivals in the league would suggest this game will be a real pre-Christmas cracker.
“It was a tight enough game earlier on in the season,” said Swords coach Dave Baker ahead of Friday’s game. “There was nothing in it for the most part but, towards the end, they pulled away. We were missing one or two regulars so we’d be pretty confident facing them again.”
A trip down to Cork to face the mighty UCC Demons awaits the winner of Friday’s game in a National Cup semi-final. That would be a big occasion for the North Dublin club both on and off the court, which Baker explained.
“There’s a lot at stake in the cup,” he said. “From a team perspective, you always want to do well in the cups and it’s great to go on a run and chase silverware.
“From a club perspective, this is the only competition you can get any money from through the TV coverage and sponsorship and all that. So, that’s a huge thing too. But, obviously, the team’s focus will be getting past UCD and then going down to Cork to face Demons in January for the semi-final, hopefully,” he added.
After an astonishing second place finish in the Premier League last season, Thunder are currently occupying fourth spot after an opening nine games that have brought a mixed bag of results.
“It’s only our second year in the Premier and I think we shocked the whole country by finishing second last season,” said the Thunder coach. “This campaign has been ok so far; we won our opening game against Eanna but then suffered three defeats on the bounce. We then won three on the spin before losing to Demons two weeks ago, and then beating Eanna once more last week.
“We were missing a couple of regular players in those opening defeats. Isaac Westbrooks was out, as were a couple of our guys from America, but we’ve recovered and done well.”
A National Cup quarter-final between two closely matched sides might be enough for most to get down to ALSAA, but this Friday there is even more incentive.
Swords Thunder are hosting a Toys for Tots campaign, which grants people free entrance to the game if they bring a Christmas gift. The gift will then be donated to either St Vincent’s de Paul or Aoibhneas – Women and Children’s Refuge.

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