Maree, already off to a respectable 2-2 start in their first ever Men’s National League campaign, knocked out 2008 winners UCD-Marian in their first round National Cup encounter in Oranmore on Saturday November 14th. It was a tough, physical game, in which UCD-Marian incurred several technical fouls, and Maree struggled to find their form, before pulling away for a 69 – 56 win. An encouraging aspect of the Oranmore-Maree outfit’s victory was that 5 players finished with 10 points or more, the kind of spread of scoring that they and their coaches have been looking for.
Maree won all four quarters, 12 – 11, 20 – 16, 19 – 15 and 18 – 14. They started with Darren Callanan (captain ), Linas Mitkus, Liam Conroy, Danny Finn and David Hansberry. It was Hansberry who got the score-board ticking over with Maree’s first three baskets; he hit eight points in the quarter. Sarunas Zuirblinskas and Con Crowley completed the scoring for the home team. For UCD-Marian, veteran Gary Edge always looked dangerous, hitting three, and Jody O’Neill hit four. In the second quarter, it was becoming clear that the referees were going to err on the side of overlooking fouls, and both teams made their displeasure known at various stages. This was to be a part of the Dublin side’s undoing, as they were later to lose the plot a little. Three threes, one each from Crowley, Conroy and Mitkus (who hit nine in the quarter ) saw Maree go in at the half 32 – 27 ahead. Although Maree led, they were having problems in stretching the UCD-Marian zone defence. In addition, their own man-to-man defence was struggling to fight through very physical screens, although Eddie Forde steadied things.
In the third quarter, Maree threatened on a few occasions to break the game open and surge to an unassailable lead, but UCD-Marian, with Edge and Dónal O’Sullivan to the fore, kept themselves in the game. Three more Maree threes from Mitkus, Conroy and Finn helped the Galway team to a 51– 42 edge going into the last period. Conroy drove for two baskets, and then an under 21 Maree five found some nice rhythm, moved the ball well, and began to look comfortable. UCD-Marian began to incur the wrath of the refs, and a stream of technicals effectively killed the game off in the last couple of minutes. A procession of free throws from Danny Finn was followed by a Colm O’Hagan basket, the last score of the game, and Maree move on in the National Cup.
Maree; Con Crowley (10 ), Colm O’Hagan (2 ), Danny Finn (13 ), Eddie Forde, Darren Callanan (Captain 2 ), George Rahmani, Ciaran Harte, Liam Conroy (11 ), David Hansberry (13 ), Sarunas Zuirblinskas (4 ), Ken Hansberry, Linas Mitkus (14 ).