Mary McGuire gives us her much-anticipated preview of the Hula Hoops semi-finals this weekend.
All eyes will be on Cork this weekend as the much-anticipated Hula Hoops National Cup semi-finals get underway from Friday, January 6th until Sunday, January 8th. Neptune Stadium and Parochial Hall will host a massive festival of basketball over the course of the weekend, with the eagerly awaited local derby clash between Ambassador UCC Glanmire and Singleton SuperValu Brunell taking centre stage on Friday evening.
 
With a long-standing history between the two sides, their journey to this weekend’s game is very different, with current Cup champions Glanmire aiming for four titles in-a-row, while Brunell are looking forward to their first Cup semi-final at this level in 25 years.
 
“We are hungry for victory,” said Brunell Head Coach, Francis O’Sullivan, whose charges secured their first win of the season when they overcame NUIG Mystics in the Cup quarter-final. “It’s 25 years since Brunell last played in the Cup semi-final at this level. We’re certainly the underdogs, but our girls are not afraid of anybody.”
 
Mark Scannell of Glanmire was also relishing the prospect of the local derby: “We’re ready and we’ve trained hard. Hopefully our big players show up on the night. We’re not underestimating Brunell; they’ve had a good run the last few weeks. It’s going to be tough.”
 
In the other women’s semi-final, DCU Mercy take on Courtyard Liffey Celtics once more, having met them just before the Christmas break in the League in a game that DCU won.
 
“Liffey Celtics are a very good team,” Mark Ingle of DCU reflected. “They have two very good American players too, so we know what we’re facing. It will be an interesting challenge.”
 
“We’re feeling good,” reflected Head Coach of Liffey Celtics, Mark Byrne. “It’s the first time Liffey Celtics have made the semi-finals at this level, so we’re excited and really looking forward to it. Hopefully, this game will be different and we’ll give a good account of ourselves.”
 
Meanwhile, two interesting clashes await in the Men’s National Cup, with SSE Airtricity Moycullen facing Griffith Swords Thunder and Pyrobel Killester taking on UCD Marian.
 
“It’s great to be there,” said Moycullen’s John Cunningham as his side prepares for their first ever Cup semi-final at this level. “We’re heavy underdogs being up against Swords, but I think we have a shot. I have faith in the lads and we’ll be hoping we can catch Swords on the day.”
 
Head Coach of Griffith Swords Thunder, Dave Baker, added that they won’t be taking anything for granted this weekend: “Moycullen have a lot of different options, their American is very good. The cup is special and I think anyone on their day can beat anyone else so there will be no complacency here.“
 
Pyrobel Killester, meanwhile, are hoping to right the wrong of last year’s Cup semi-final which saw them pipped in the dying minutes by Templeogue.
 
“We feel like we left the Cup semi-final behind us last year against Templeogue,” admitted Brian O’Malley. “We felt we let that one get away from us so want to get over the line this year. UCD got the better of us the last time we played in the League and we want to correct that performance. They are in a really good place so it’s going to take a lot for us to get through.”
 
UCD Head Coach, Ioannis Liapakis, is also relishing the experience of being in the Cup semi-final: “There is no tomorrow in this game – it’s not like the League, we are treating this as a final, there’s no second chance, so we have to be ready. We will need 110% from everybody.”
 
Friday, 6th January, 2017
Hula Hoops President’s Cup semi-final: Kestrels v BFG Neptune, Neptune Stadium, 18:30
 
Hula Hoops Women’s National Cup semi-final: Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Singleton SuperValu Brunell, Neptune Stadium, 20:30
 
Saturday, 7th January, 2017
Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League: Belfast Star v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors, Methodist College, 19.00
 
Hula Hoops U18 Men’s Cup semi-finals: BFG Neptune v Liffey Celtics, Neptune Stadium, 10.00
Templeogue V KUBS, Neptune Stadium, 12.00 
 
Hula Hoops U18 Women’s Cup semi-finals: DCU Mercy v Portlaoise Panthers, Parochial Hall, 10.00
Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Courtyard Liffey Celtics, Parochial Hall, 12.00
 
Hula Hoops President’s Cup semi-final: EJ Sligo All Stars v Team Kilkenny, Neptune Stadium, 14:00
 
Hula Hoops U20 Women’s Cup semi-final: Meteors BC v Killester BC, Parochial Hall, 14.00
 
Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup semi-finals: SSE Airtricity Moycullen v Griffith Swords Thunder, Neptune Stadium, 16:00
Pyrobel Killester v UCD Marian, Neptune Stadium, 20:00
 
Hula Hoops Women’s National Cup semi-final: Courtyard Liffey Celtics v DCU Mercy, Neptune Stadium, 18.00 
 
Hula Hoops Senior Women’s Cup semi-finals: Oblate Dynamos v Marble City Hawks, Parochial Hall, 16.00
ITC Basketball v Ulster Rockets, Parochial Hall, 20.00
 
Hula Hoops Women’s NICC semi-finals: St Mary's Castleisland v Maree BC, Parochial Hall, 18.00
 
Sunday, 8th January, 2017 
Hula Hoops U20 Men’s Cup semi-finals: Maree BC v BFG Neptune, Neptune Stadium, 10.00
Moycullen BC v KUBS, Neptune Stadium, 12.00
 
Hula Hoops Men’s NICC semi-final: Ballincollig BC v UCD Marian, Neptune Stadium, 14.00
 
Hula Hoops U20 Women’s Cup semi-final: DCU Mercy v Ambassador UCC Glanmire, Parochial Hall, 10.00 
 
Hula Hoops Women’s NICC semi-finals: Muckno Lakers v Limerick Celtics, Parochial Hall, 12.00
 
Hula Hoops Men’s NICC semi-final: Limerick Celtics v Blue Demons, Parochial Hall, 14.00
 
You can also see the full schedule here.
 
Ticket information for Hula Hoops National Cup semi-finals:
 
Tickets will be available on the door of each venue (Parochial Hall and Neptune Stadium). Tickets cover both venues.
 
Note: In order to enter each venue you must have a ticket and a wristband.
 
Weekend Pass: (only available for purchase on Friday night)
 
Adults: €25
 
Student/OAP: €15
 
U16s: €10
 
U10s: Free