A new season begins for An Cearnog Nua, Moycullen basketballers on Saturday when the National League division one gets underway.
Moycullen face new entrants Limerick Lions in this opening encounter which takes place in the University of Limerick (6.30pm ).
In addition to the Limerick Lions, there are several additional sides in this year’s division one championship. St Paul’s Killarney came down from the Superleague, and with that experience, are expected to prove particularly strong title challengers. A Taste of Europe is one of two new clubs backed by Eastern Europeans. A Taste of Europe, a Polish/Lithuanian combination, are also in the Southern Conference, as are Team Meadowlands, St Brendan’s, Tralee. The Tralee outfit won the conference last year, with Moycullen runners-up, and as a result of that win, Tralee enjoyed home advantage in the play-offs with Moycullen. They went on to record another victory, but lost the final to Tolka Rovers from Dublin by one point
Also in the Southern Conference are local rivals Galway Titans, and they are expected to be a stronger outfit this year with the addition of some new players, including Paul Freeman who played Superleague with Ballina last year. Other teams are Team Garveys, St Mary’s Castleisland, and AOL Waterford.
Once again the top four in each conference go into a knockout phase, with the higher ranked teams having home advantage. The Northern Conference comprises Tolka Rovers, Team Loftus Recycling - Ballina; Sligo All Stars; Lisburn 94's; Portlaoise; Longford Falcons; Ballon - a new team from Carlow with Lithuanian and Latvian players; and Queen’s of Belfast.
Moycullen will not enjoy a home fixture until October 12 when they host another new team, Lisburn, at the new NUIG Sports Centre.
The 22-game league once again will test the squad’s strength, but with last year’s team still intact, and with some of the younger players enjoying international experience for Ireland over the summer (u-20s Cian Nihill and Paul O'Brien 20 and u-18s Stephen Tummon and Dylan Cunningham ), Moycullen have enjoyed a productive pre-season.
Moycullen, with coach Mardon is at the helm for a second season, have competed in a tournament in Poland against professional opposition, while hosting two warm-up games in the new NUIG Sports Centre last weekend. On Saturday they lost by four to Super League team St Vincent’s of Dublin, while on Sunday they had an easy win over National League newcomers A T aste of Europe.
Fixtures: Saturday, Titans v A Taste of Europe, Renmore Community Centre 4pm; Limerick Lions v An Cearnog Nua Moycullen, UL Arena 6.30pm.