Wildcats’ Stephanie O’Shea in action against Liffey Celtics during their last meeting at the Mercy Gym. O’Shea will be key to the home team’s chances of causing an upset on Saturday night. Photo: Noel Browne.
This Saturday February 17th sees Maxol WIT Wildcats take on Liffey Celtics, Super League champions for last season who are at present top of league table and well on their way to retaining their crown.
Celtics were for a number of years a mid-table team at best but with the inclusion of former Wildcats favourite Jazmen Boone and a couple of rising stars from their underage programme, they are now the cream of the crop. On the other hand Wildcats have struggled to stay with the pace at top level, not that they don’t have the talent which they have shown from time to time. It’s because of their inconsistency.
They have blown hot and cold all season winning their their opening games and then six losses on the trot. At least two of those losses were when they led by 10 points into the final quarter. One big problem has been their defence which has been shocking at times and painful to watch, especially when they have offensively notched up enough points to win most games.
When Sinead Deegan decided to take a year out to travel the world, Wildcats were always going to miss a player of her quality but it left a slot of opportunity open for 16 year old Abby Flynn who game by game has shown that Waterford has a real special talent in this young lady. Without doubt her contribution in the recent away game to Galway tipped the balance in Wildcats favour and that win has secured a place for Wildcats in next season’s Superleague.
With four remaining games to be played and all against teams at the top of the table that win in Galway has taken massive pressure off all in the Wildcats camp especially as their injury list has mounted giving coaches Hayes and Nolan some concern for this Saturday’s game against Celtics . With team captain Cathy Kavanagh out for the remainder of the season there is now concern about the availability of free scoring Helena Rohan and both American players Jasmine Walker and Meghan Donoghue. All three have been having intense treatment for injuries. As already stated, the pressure of relegation is off so Wildcats coaches can shuffle their pack and have a real go at their opponents. This also gives some of the players of the future a chance to prove they are ready for top level basketball. Tip off Wildcats v Celtics 7pm at the Mercy gym.
SUPER LEAGUE NEIGHBOURS
Wildcats will have their near neighbours, Marble City Hawks, as one of their opponents in next season’s Superleague. A nine point home win over one time super team University of Limerick last Saturday assures the Kilkenny outfit of a place in Ireland’s premier league for 2018/19. Among those to be congratulated in the Hawks team are three former Wildcats Rachel Butler, Elaine Kennington and American Katie Fox. Without doubt local rivalry such as that in the GAA could now become similar in the Women’s Superleague and the South East Derby could become one of the special occasions in Irish basketball. Bring it on.
Wildcats’ underage teams had a busy weekend last Saturday and Sunday with our Under 13 team recording a comprehensive win over Carlow in the Kilkenny league whilst the under 14 and under 16 teams stormed to victory against Glanmire in two home wins in the Mercy Gym on Saturday afternoon in the Cork league. Our youngest team, under 12, beat Carrigaline on Sunday in front of a home crowd who cheered their team onto a decisive win in another Cork league encounter and the under 16 team finished off the weekend with a victory over Old Leighlin in the Kilkenny league. The future is bright for the Wildcats basketball club with excellent performances being delivered week in week out by our underage players in competitions around the country.