1 February 2024
~5 minutes read
Maree face tough trip to Neptune Stadium this weekend
The fight for supremacy in a tightly grouped South Conference of the InsureMyVan.ie Super League will take another sharp turn this weekend, as two of the top three face stern tests on the road.
Maree BC edged into top spot with a game in hand following last week’s victory over Templeogue, now they travel to Neptune Stadium with Energywise Ireland Neptune in a dogfight for that final playoff berth. “We know the calibre of opposition we’re playing this weekend,” said Maree head coach Charlie Crowley. “Paul (Kelleher) will have his troops ready for us. We are doing everything we can to do, in our homework to be prepared for this task. An improvement on last week’s performance will be required to be in with a shot of Neptune come the end of the game.” Energywise Ireland Neptune can ill-afford another slow start, which got them into a 24-8 deficit against Killester in their last outing if they’re to defend home court.
Nearest rivals Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and Irish Guide Dogs Ballincollig @MTU lost out to North Conference opponents in their previous outing, but any slip-up from the Galway side and they are poised to make it a three-way tie at the top if they overcome Flexachem KCYMS and Maigh Cuilinn respectively. That will be no easy task though, with both opponents still harbouring playoff ambitions of their own. Flexachem KCYMS picked up the win against Garvey’s Tralee Warriors back in October and with John Dowling still without Ryan Leonard, avoiding two Kerry derby defeats in a single season for the first time is now paramount to securing a home route through the post-season.
Ivan Basic’s last-minute bucket for Maigh Cuilinn against Ulster University handed them their second away win of the campaign and made it back-to-back wins against teams not named Maree BC. They will have to take their offensive output to another level against the defending champions this week, though. Irish Guide Dogs Ballincollig @MTU are averaging 90.9 points per game in comparison to just 73.2ppg for Maigh Cuilinn. Finding that additional offensive efficiency will be difficult despite another standout season for Grant Olsson in Galway.
UCC Demons’ overtime win against Bright St.Vincents eased their relegation concerns slightly, making it successive wins after their Pat Duffy Cup triumph will ease them significantly. Their opponents Templeogue are currently on a two-game skid but welcomed back Lorcan Murphy from a two-game absence last time out. Their ability to guard the presence of Elijah Tillman around the rim, how that area is officiated and Tillman’s ability to stay out of foul trouble will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
The top two in the North Conference meet for what could be Killester’s last chance to reel in Belfast Star for the top seed. Star have been imperious in their march through the regular season and at 12-1, have already cemented their position in the post-season. The North Dubliners are four games back. However, a win at home, paired with success in their game in hand on the leaders and suddenly some pressure would be applied down the stretch.
Also at 8-4, Griffith College Éanna are in a similar position ahead of their trip to Ulster University. A loss for Belfast Star could re-ignite their chance of an unlikely top spot, but more realistically they need to win to maintain pace in the race for second. Two of their three defeats this season have come away from Coláiste Éanna, but in the same breath Ulster University’s only win in Jordanstown came against Templeogue in October, so both teams will need to change a narrative internally to come out on top.
The final playoff spot in the North Conference is occupied by EJ Sligo All-Stars ahead of their trip to the capital to take on Bright St.Vincents. A lot is riding on this contest for both, as Shane O’Meara knows victory could ensure another season at the top level at the very least, while there’s also potential to create separation in the hunt for the post-season. For Bright St.Vincents every game from here on out is essentially a cup final. They are just a single game behind Ulster University, but time is running out. Mid-season addition William Jenkins has found his feet in recent weeks and his energy on both ends of the floor can be a difference-maker in the business end of the season.
InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Super League Fixtures:
Saturday, February 3rd
Bright St. Vincent’s vs EJ Sligo All-Stars, St Vincent’s CBS, 7 pm
Pyrobel Killester vs Belfast Star, 7 pm
Ulster University vs Griffith College Éanna, Jordanstown Sports Village, 7.30 pm
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors vs Flexachem KCYMS, Tralee Sports Complex, 7.30 pm
Sunday, February 4th
UCC Demons vs Templeogue, Mardyke Arena, 3 pm
Maigh Cuilinn vs Irish Guide Dogs Ballincollig@MTU, Kingfisher Sports Arena, 3 pm
Energywise Ireland Neptune vs Maree, Neptune Stadium, 6 pm
InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Division One Fixtures:
Saturday, February 3rd
Moy Tolka Rovers vs Mater Private Malahide, Tolka Rovers Sports Complex, 1800
UCD Marian vs Joels Dublin Lions, UCD Sports Centre, 1900
Titans BC vs Killarney Cougars, Knocknacarra Community Centre, 1900
SETU Waterford Vikings vs Limerick Sport Eagles, SETU College Hall, 1900
Limerick Celtics vs Scotts Lakers Killarney, Crescent College, 1915
Drogheda Wolves vs Team NorthWest, Ballymakenny College, 1930
Sunday, February 4th
SETU Carlow vs Kavanagh’s Portlaoise Panthers, Barrow Centre, 15.15