Saturday 20 January 2018

Basketball: Leeside rivals make case for the defence

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Defensive security will be the key to victory tonight as Cork rivals UCC Demons and Neptune go head to head in the Men's Superleague.

The two teams, ranked second and third in the Southern Conference, are renowned for their offensive abilities but according to their coaches, the edge will go to the side that copes best defensively.

Both sides go into the Leeside derby at the Mardyke Arena requiring a result, as Neptune look to build on last week's victory over UL Eagles and leapfrog their local rivals in the South Conference table.

Neptune coach Pat Price reckons his side go into the match as outsiders, but believes that they can secure victory if his defensive strategy can nullify the influence of Demons star Ciaran O'Sullivan.

"We will need a similar performance to last weekend's to get by the Demons' team," Price said. "Our pressure defence will need to disrupt the rhythm of players like Ciaran O'Sullivan. We have to go into the Mardyke Arena and we will relish our underdog tag and work very hard on the night."

Fans hoping for an attacking game may be disappointed, with Demons' Paul Kelleher backing his defence to cancel out Neptune's attacking threat.

O'Sullivan was the key man as they edged out Belfast Star last weekend but the coach has singled out Neptune's new signing Michael Bonaparte as a man to watch.

"Both teams rely on their offence at present," Kelleher explained. "So I think whichever team plays the better defence on the night will come out on top. Bonaparte has added a different dimension to Neptune and they will be difficult to defend but this promises to be hotly contested as always."

Meanwhile, Northern Conference leaders Killester take to the M1 on Sunday to face Ulster Elks, hoping to inflict more pain on a side who have won just once this season.

The northsiders have been rocked by the news that Paddy Kelly's broken collar bone will rule him out for up to six weeks, while they are without Kieran O'Brien, who cannot play due to personal commitments.

Moycullen face a tough weekend's work as they host DCU Saints tomorrow, before South Conference leaders UL Eagles look to rebound from last week's loss to Neptune by hosting the Galway side 24 hours later. UCD Marian host Belfast Star tomorrow evening.

Irish Independent

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