11 January 2019, Friday
By Elaine Murphy
Hula Hoops National Cup semi-finals take centre stage in Cork this weekend
The Hula Hoops National Cup semi finals will take centre stage in Cork this weekend with 20 thrilling clashes taking place across the three days at Neptune Stadium and the Mardyke Arena UCC.
The women’s semi-finals have teed up some huge games, with a big Cork derby getting things underway on Friday evening, the highlight of the two derby games being the Super League meeting of Singleton SuperValu Brunell and Fr Mathews at 8.30pm. Nothing separated these two sides in their last clash, with Mathews just pipping it by two points and Mathews have some Cup experience behind them having won the Women’s Division One Cup last year – and also have the experience of Cup specialists Grainne and Niamh Dwyer and Chantell Alford behind them. Brunell for their part though are well used to Cup semi-final showdowns and indeed Cork showdowns under pressure, but having fallen at this stage to Glanmire the past two years, they will be hoping to go one step further this year.
On the other side of the draw meanwhile, DCU Mercy and Courtyard Liffey Celtics are set to dish up an absolute thriller on Saturday evening in their semi-final battle. They have met each other the last two years in the Cup with Liffey winning the semi-final in 2017, and DCU winning the quarter final battle for the 2018 Cup that saw them go on to win the title.
Over on the men’s side meanwhile, both Super League games will tip off on Saturday at the Mardyke Arena UCC with UCD Marian and Belfast Star getting the games underway at 4pm. Marian were runners-up in last year’s Cup, losing out to Templeogue in the final, and will be hoping to nab that elusive Cup this time around. Star meanwhile will appear in their first Cup semi-final since 2003. Back then, Adrian Fulton was one of the star players on court, but this time around, Adrian is head coach while his son, CJ lines out for Star.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and Pyrobel Killester will face off at 8pm in what is set to be another ding dong battle for glory, and no doubt the Mardyke will be packed to the rafters for this clash.
Elsewhere, Portlaoise Panthers boast four teams in the semi-finals across the men’s and women’s games, Liffey Celtics have three teams, while Tradehouse Central Ballincollig will be aiming to retain their Presidents Cup title in what is truly set to be a thrilling few days of basketball action.