Wednesday 22 March 2017

Basketball: Killester's grit to prove key

Men's SuperLeague National Cup final, tomorrow, 3.15: Killester v UCD Marian

Killester are hot favourites to retain their title at the National Basketball Arena tomorrow afternoon, having overcome a recent slump and moved back into top gear.

The northsiders have the experience and belief to thrive in a final environment against a UCD Marian side competing in their first National Cup decider.

Marian arrive at the top table after almost two decades on the periphery and they will be keen to make an impact. But despite the talent of the likes of Conor Meany, Neil Baynes and Dan James, they lack the big-game nous that Killester bring.

The holders' mix of talented youth and gritty experience has gotten them over the line time and time again.

They do have injury concerns over Polish star Michael Goj, who has gone home for treatment on an Achilles injury, while Isaac Westbrooks is facing a battle to be fit after injuring his hamstring in training.

Fran Ryan's UCD welcome back Paddy Young after a long lay-off, while Cathal Finn is a doubt. His side will need a huge performance, but Killester should have enough to retain their title.

Verdict: Killester

Women's SuperLeague National Cup final, tomorrow, 1.0: Team Montenotte Hotel Cork v DCU Mercy

HOLDERS DCU Mercy take on the league champions Team Montenotte Hotel, Cork in a repeat of last year's final.

This clash looks almost too close to call, with two points between the sides in second and third place on the SuperLeague table. And although revenge is on the agenda for the Cork side, coach Mark Scannell has banned talk of last year's final.

"We can't go into the game thinking like that," he said. "Maybe because we lost to them last year, that can give us the hunger to do better and win it this year. We know how it feels to win this cup, and we know how it feels to lose it: hopefully the experience of losing it can spur us on."

Scannell has injury concerns over Marie Breen, Aine McKenna and Grainne Dwyer ahead of tomorrow's final, but will be hoping all three can recover in time.

DCU coach Mark Ingle will be hoping that his influential skipper Lindsey Peat, an All-Ireland winner with Dublin's footballers last year, will continue her recent return to form and lead DCU to another crown.

Verdict: DCU Mercy

Irish Independent

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