No it’s not a long forgotten terrible WWE Pay Per View but rather the extraordinary run of fixtures facing one of the most competitive leagues in Europe. Emmet Ryan on why the Irish men’s Super League merits your attention over the next month, no matter where you are watching
As things stand in Ireland, just shy of the midway point of the season, the best two team have two losses, two teams have three, and another two are barely above .500 but still only a game further back. Those who have paid attention to the league the last three seasons and especially the last two won’t be surprised. Ireland’s men’s league is a bloodbath that we just don’t see in sport that often let alone in basketball. Half the teams are very alive in the title race and this is normal operating procedure.
This oddity is basically the norm in Ireland. Last season a quarter of the teams were alive for the title going into the final weekend, the prior year 5 of the 12 teams have serious title hopes going into the final week. That’s absurd.
Ireland is unusual in that the league regular season is the primary title. There is a post-season competition, the Champions Trophy, but top of the table at the end of the year is the league champion and that’s the big one.
Annnd here we go again with a month of absolute bonkers fixtures. It begins on Thursday as 4 loss Templeogue host 3 loss UCD Marian. A Templeogue loss puts them in huge trouble. A win for either and it’s a case of survive for now.
Then, just because Templeogue need to stay interesting at the front end of the month, they host 7-2 Éanna on Saturday. That same night 7-3 Tralee host 7-2 Neptune. It’s worth noting that Neptune were reprieved from relegation by the withdrawal of UCC Demons and Éanna only got promoted this season. Right now, they both have the best records in the Super League. The other team above .500, Belfast Star, host DCU Saints who have a tradition of scoring at least one (usually more) title chase influencing win ever season.
It gets sillier as UCD could well see their season ruined in the space of four nights. A loss at Templeogue would need them in dire need of a win over 5-5 Killester on Sunday.
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Then everybody breathes and the following week it’s all mad again. Tralee come up to Dublin to take on UCD, Star travel to face Templeogue, and Neptune face a tough road test at Killorglin. Éanna host fellow promoted side and current basement team Dublin Lions that night.
There are only games in the league the Saturday before Christmas but two of those are title contender match-ups. UCD host Templeogue, Belfast host Tralee, while Éanna make the trip to Killorglin. The final weekend of December is comparatively sane as the only game featuring a side currently with a winning record sees Neptune host Maree.
This four weekend stretch promises to be bonkers. 7-2 Éanna have the nicest run on paper but all of the title contenders in what is a ludicrously crowded title race are in for a challenging month. Survive this with as few scars as possible, then look to January. It’s going to be silly.