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IRL - Local derby at the forefront of weekend's action
Neptune has just signed new coach and club stalwart Noel Allen in time for this weekend's game after Italian coach Cristiano Sias returned to Italy last week. Allen is ready for the challenge and is looking forward season.
With new imports, American Jamal Ward and Corey Evans and Australian Adam Piszczuk, Neptune are feeling confident. They have received a further boost by the addition of point guard Ger Noonan who is returning to his roots from Gleneagle Lakers.
Demons Coach Pat Price is also anticipating a highly intense local derby. "We are looking forward to getting started. This team has a new identity while still boasting experience in several positions. Neptune is a difficult first game but we are up for the challenge."
It is a big weekend too for Merry Monk Ballina who face a tough task against DART Killester on Saturday night at home at 8.00pm. Killester have undergone many changes in the club this year with the introduction of new Serbian Coach Saisa Punosevac and two Serbian players, 6'3" guard Vladamir Radmanovac and 6'8" forward Branislav Tomic. Also making a substantial return to the squad is 7ft Irish Conor Tolan who is just back from college in the states.
However, new Ballina coach Terry Kennedy is very happy with his squad and with the fact that football star Ronan McGarrity devoting himself exclusively to basketball this season, confidence is high in the Ballina camp.
Limerick Lions also face a tough opener when they make the trip to Killarney to take on Gleneagle Lakers also on Saturday. The Lions have a much-changed team since the end of last season. Coming in are two new American players (Robert Taylor & Jon Steven) and a new Irish Canadian (Adrian Walshe). Coming back to play in Limerick is Irish player Robert Lynch, who along with Ricardo Leonard will bring a lot of SuperLeague experience to the Lions.
It is a new look Gleneagle Lakers line-up also this season and hopes are high in the Killarney camp that they can make up for last seasons disappointing league performance. Former Lakers star Cormac O'Donoghue is the new coach of the team and while he may be regarded as a rookie SuperLeague coach, he makes up for it with an impressive playing career. Coach O'Donoghue has played at the top level with Killarney, Tralee and Waterford and has been capped for Ireland over 40 times at junior and senior level.
This weekend also sees another local derby game between Northern Conference champions Roma St. Vincent's and UCD. Roma are without Pete Madsen who has returned to a Pro career with Reading Rockets in England. They are also without veteran Stephen McGuirk who has retired after 12 great years with the Glasnevin side. However, Coach Boylan is positive having signed two new Americans Darnell Jackson and Mike Pero and the addition of Eoin Darling who makes the transfer from Hoops while 6'4" Philip Taylor returns from college in the States.
UCD are without Neville Charles but have many new additions through Damion Moberly (played with Killester last season) and Nate Lufkin, a rookie from Holy Cross College. Irish International Lorcan Precious is back for another season and new to the squad is former Hoops player 6'3" Ian O'Boyle who returns from US college.
Shamrock Rovers Hoops are under new coach, Serbian Greg Petrovic who has spent the last number of years coaching at underage level in the club. Petrovic's first game in charge is a home tie against MDS Star on Saturday 8th October, in the National Basketball Arena.
Meanwhile it is full steam ahead in the women's SuperLeague as Mustang Sally's St. Paul's commence the new season with an away game to Mercy Coolock in Dublin on Saturday October 8th. They are under new coach Karl Flemming. He has a wealth of experience coaching the garda basketball teams over the past number of years as well as the men's team in the past.
Mustangs have signed a new American in Monica Peterson, a 6'1" forward and graduate of the University of Maine. Making a welcome return to basketball is Kerry ladies footballer and former Irish international Mairead Finnegan. Other new faces on the Mustangs squad this year are Louise Hartnett, Marian O'Callaghan and Laura Buckley.
Mercy Coolock gained a valuable forward in former Irish international and Killester player Suzanne Maguire. They have also signed Tracy Gahan from Iowa State University who boasts an impressive background. She was drafted for WNBA New York Liberty in 2002 while she has played in the Greek league with Panathinaikos (Pat Burkes former team) and Peiraikos Sindesmos for the last 3 years.
Bausch & Lomb Wildcats face a tough task at home this weekend when they play DART Killester. While Wildcats have no new additions to the team and will be without influential Jenny Cody, Killester has gained a strong American, Sue Altman and 6'6" Orla Dempsey has transferred from UL.
A big weekend is in store for Drimnagh Dynamos as they play UL Aughnish in the UL Arena in their first game of the season. With Jolie McKeirnan back for her second year, Drimnagh hope she can follow up her game high 39 points the last time these two teams met.