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Basketball: UCD Marian aiming to clip Eagles' wings in Cup defence

IF UCD Marian are to retain their Superleague National Cup this season they are in for a tough route to the final.

Last year's heroic victory will live long in the memory around Belfield but if they are to repeat the trick, the southsiders must go to Limerick and beat UL Eagles in tomorrow's quarter-final.

It's a daunting prospect for the holders, even though it was a close run affair when these teams met in league action just over a month ago in UCD.

The Limerickmen edged it by a basket after a game that was no classic and Eagles coach Mark Keenan, whose charges suffered back-to-back defeats last weekend, reckons tomorrow's visitors will feel hard done by after that result.

"It was not a great game and although we managed to dig out a result, UCD were probably kicking themselves they did not turn us over," he said.

The holders lost narrowly to UCC Demons last weekend and coach Fran Ryan is fully aware of the importance of the Cup to the club.

"This is a huge game for the club because the memories of our great win last season over Killester come flooding back," he said.

Neptune travel north to take on Belfast Star at Andersonstown in their last-eight clash, while last year's beaten finalists Killester take on Galway's Moycullen.

After they were forced to play a home game in Inchicore, coach Darren O'Neill is thankful of a return to their regular venue at the IWA Clontarf for a crucial tie.

"At least we are back in the IWA on Saturday and that is a decided advantage. I didn't coach the last time we played Moycullen but they are an improving side," he said.

UCC Demons take on DCU Saints in Sunday's quarter-final in Cork in a battle between two of the league's form sides. Saints coach David Donnelly is expecting a tough trip.

"Cork is the hotbed of Irish basketball and we will need to improve on our recent performance against them if we are to get anything from this game," he said.

In the Women's National Cup, holders DCU Mercy are away at Waterford Wildcats for the start of their defence on Sunday.

Killester host Ulster Rockets tomorrow, while Meteors take on Glanmire and UL welcome Brunell to Limerick, both on Sunday.

Irish Independent