PREVIEW: NICC battles set to be two tough finals
January 25, 2019
This year’s NICC Hula Hoops National Cup finals are set to be two gritty battles at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
First up will be the men’s clash on Friday evening at 8.30pm between Drogheda Bullets and Glasnevin BC. This year’s title will have a new home as the two teams have never reached this stage of the competition. Drogheda booked their place with a nail-biting win over perennial contenders BC Leixlip Zalgiris in Cork. Coach Gerald Kennedy was delighted as his team put in an accomplished display and managed to get some important stops in what was a physically intense game. Janis Assurs was central to Drogheda’s success in the semis with a 23-point contribution and he will be required to step up again if the title is to head up the M1.
For Glasnevin it’s a familiar duo of Kevin Foley and Peder Madsen who will be leading the way. Foley, who played in the Super League final in 2015, led the north Dubliners with 28 points in their semi final. Madsen, a former cup and league winner with Killester, will provide outside shooting as well as smart guard play.
Both teams prefer an uptempo game so it will be interesting to see if that plays out tonight in the final or if it will be a more cagey battle.
Pyrobel Killester and Fr Mathews will meet in the Women’s NICC final on Saturday afternoon, bringing together two of the country’s biggest clubs, who each boast a current Super League team. When clubs with Super League teams reach this stage of the NICC competition it usually means that they are led by former Super League talent, and this is certainly the case for Killester’s who will look to the duo of Catriona White and Kate McDaid on Saturday, who were crucial for them in their semi final win over East Cavan Eagles in Cork. Killester have a deep squad and have been one of the dominant forces in the Dublin league over the past decade. A combination of youth and experience, size and speed, they are a team that would certainly cause problems for some National League teams. They also fell short in last year's Cup final against St Mary's Castleisland, so will be hoping to change their fortune this year.
Fr Mathews themselves are ready for the big occasion having won a major Cork derby against Glanmire in the semi finals. Despite the game being a one point game at half time the Mathews team stormed into the final with an incredible second half performance led by Sinead O’Mahoney. Their aggressive press caused Glanmire issues and it will be interesting to see if they can cause the same issues for a more experienced Killester team.