Ger Noonan and Mick McGinn celebrate their Irish Cup triumph with Neptune.Basketball Ireland has released its fixtures for the upcoming 2013/14 season. Here are the highlights.

This season marks a notable expansion for Irish Basketball. The men’s Superleague has been re-branded as the Premier League to mark expansion to the top flight and a formalising of the promotion and relegation system. A total of 10 teams will battle it out for the men’s Premier League title with University of Limerick (UL) Eagles, last year’s Superleague champions, opening their campaign on the road at Moycullen on 5 October. New arrivals Templeogue begin their campaign at home to Dublin City University (DCU) Saints. The other expansion team is Belfast Star, returning to the top flight after a few years’ absence. They face a tough test on opening weekend against reigning national cup champions Bord Gáis Neptune. Dublin Inter, whose squad is dominated by Lithuanian and Latvian players, will look to build in their second season in the top tier. Dublin Inter open on the road at Killester.

In the women’s Superleague, three-time defending champions UL Huskies open their title defence against DCU Mercy on 5 October. Mercy made a surprise run to the playoff finals last year and will look to pull a road upset against a UL team that features Great Britain Olympian Rachael Vanderwal. The main challenge to the Huskies is likely to come from Team Montenotte Hotel (there’s a mouthful), who were the only team to beat the Limerick side last season.

Unlike many European leagues, the national cup competitions are spaced out over several weeks. The finals are set to take place on the weekend of 24-26 January. Last year’s men’s final saw Mick McGinn lead Neptune to their first title in two decades while the Huskies claimed the women’s crown en route to a domestic treble.

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