PREVIEW: Warriors Aim For Cup Final Place By Beating Killester

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Warriors Paul Dick in full flight against Pyrobel Killester back in October. Photo by Liam Ryan

Alan Cantwell previews tonight’s Hula Hoops National Cup semi-final between Garvey’s Tralee Warriors and Pyrobel Killester at the Mardyke Arena in Cork…

GARVEY’S Tralee Warriors will contest a National Cup semi final for the first time in their short three-year history tonight when they take to the court at the Mardyke Arena.

Having been denied a place in the last four of the competition in 2017 by the eventual winners Swords Thunder, and last year by UCC Demons, the Warriors have at last made it through to the Cup semi finals weekend in Cork.

Standing in their way for a place in the Pat Duffy Cup final is Pyrobel Killester, a club that has won the Cup on four occasions since it was established just over 50 years ago.

When the Cup draw took place back in September, the players, coaches and committee of the Warriors would have been forgiven for thinking they had to wait another year to reach the semi final stage when handed an apparent mission impossible in the first round with an away tie with the National Cup holders Templeogue.

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On paper it looked like the toughest draw possible, but against the odds the Warriors produced a superb performance of ferocity and determination to easily account for the Cup champions by 103-92, and make the rest of the Super League sides sit up and take notice.

The prize for that win was a home quarter final against arch rivals UCC Demons, the side that ended the Warriors interest in the Cup last season at the quarter final stage.

In front of a packed out Tralee Sports Complex, the Warriors looked the more likely side to exit the competition at the midway point of the third quarter, when they trailed the Leesiders by 57-39.

However they conjured up a comeback for the ages by outscoring Demons 46-22 in the last fourteen minutes of play to make it through to their very first National Cup semi final.

Warriors Jordan Evans scores for Garvey’s Tralee Warriors against Pyrobel Killester. Photo by Liam Ryan

The Warriors have got on a decent run of form since that win over Demons in the quarter final and are unbeaten in five straight games in the League.

However, despite a big local derby win over Keane’s Supervalu Killorglin last Saturday night, a repeat tonight of allowing the opposition shoot 28 points in the first quarter will simply not be good enough.

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Pat Price and his coaching team will be looking to their key defensive guards of Kieran Donaghy, Eoin Quigley, Keith Jumper and Darren O’Sullivan to keep the Killester shooters at bay while Jordan Evans, Dusan Bogdanovic, Fergal O’Sullivan and Darragh O’Hanlon will be expected to get plenty of looks at the Killester basket over the 40 minutes.

The key match up may well be the meeting of two of the finest point guards in the League with the Warriors Paul Dick facing down Killester’s Ciaran Roe in a duel that will strongly influence the final outcome of the contest. 

Tonight’s opponents have tasted Cup success four times with victory in 1987, 2001, 2008 and most recently in 2010. They missed out on a very special chance of glory in their 50th anniversary year two seasons ago when going down to Griffith College Swords Thunder in an all Dublin Cup final.

Last year Killester also made it to the semi final stage before succumbing to the eventual Cup runners up UCD Marian by 91-77. They have made it through to tonight’s showdown courtesy of a big 90-67 win over Swords in the last eight.

They boast some of the best players in the League on current form and in addition to Ciaran Roe they have American Royce Williams, one of the most effective shooters in the League, who has led the Killester scoring charts in all but two of their games this season.

They also have other dangermen in their ranks including the likes of Alex Herrerros and Luis Garcia Hoyos as well as Paddy Sullivan, Alan Casey, Michael Westbrooks and Andy McGeever.

The sides have already met this season with Killester winning out in the Super League Round 4 clash at the IWA in Clontarf by 86-82. The Warriors will feel that it was a game they let slip having put themselves into a game winning position with Jordan Evans game high score of 29 helping his side go eight points up in the last quarter.

However Killester hit some big late scores from Royce Williams and Andy McGeever to deny the Warriors the win. It would be no great surprise if it was another high scoring affair tonight.

The National Cup has a special place in the hearts of basketball fans in Tralee and many will be hoping that the Warriors can add to their two Champions Trophy titles and try to emulate the Cup success enjoyed by Kieran Donaghy and the rest of the Tralee Tigers in 2005 and 2007.

Tonight they are looking to take the final step to secure their place in this year’s Cup decider in Tallaght in two weeks time.  

It’s Garvey’s Tralee Warriors v Pyrobel Killester in the Mardyke Arena in Cork – tip off this evening is 8.00pm.

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