Moycullen look for hat-trick over Belfast

SSE Airtricity Moycullen are back on the road again on Saturday as they travel to Belfast for the second leg of the National Cup.

Going into this tie with Belfast Star, Moycullen hold a slender one-point (72-71 ) lead over their northern opponents, so it is all to play for on Saturday night (7pm ).

This is the third times the sides have met this season. Moycullen also prevailed in the Superleague fixture last month by 82-79 after the first leg of the Hula Hoops Men's National Cup first tie, but Belfast will hope home advantage can make the difference on this occasion.

Moycullen, however, will be buoyed by their visit to Cork last weekend for their first matchup of the season against current League champions UCC Demons in the Parochial Hall. It was a tight game that went down to a final shot in overtime, but in the end, UCC Demons came out with the win, 96 - 93.

Moycullen started the game brightly and were soon in the ascendancy early in the first quarter thanks to great team play from Patrick Lyons, who dished out nine assists on the night. James Loughnane proved too quick for his defender and left him in the dust, finishing at the rim on numerous occasions. Dylan Cunningham’s great play carried over from last weekend, as he found his range early to add to Moycullen’s lead. At the end of the first, Moycullen led 22-11.

Moycullen continued their good offensive play with Philip Lawrence-Ricks hitting a series of tough midrange jump shots. However, Moycullen struggled to keep up with Demon’s American Jacob Lawson, who proved a handful, and the game was tied 39-39 at half time.

Paul Freeman showed heart on the defensive end in the third quarter, battling for every rebound and picking up 15 in the process, while Lawrence-Ricks and Cunningham attacked the basket relentlessly, scoring some much needed points for Moycullen. UCC Demon’s, however, unleashed a three-point barrage on their Moycullen opponents, but excellent shooting from James Loughnane kept Moycullen in touch going into the final quarter, 60-65.

The lead changed hands between the two teams numerous times in the fourth. Moycullen lost some momentum following a four-point play for Demons, which saw them go up by three, but Moycullen rookie John Hackett picked up a three-point play on the offensive end. With Jacob Lawson fouling out in the final minutes, it looked as if Moycullen would snatch the win, but a missed shot at the buzzer saw the two tied 84 apiece.

With Demon’s American fouled out, Philip Lawrence-Ricks was able to attack the paint with ease in overtime, scoring five quick points and putting Moycullen up by one. However, Demons remained unfazed, and the game came down to a final shot once again. Moycullen narrowly missed, and Demon prevailed.

Moycullen: Dylan Cunningham (21 ), Philip Lawrence-Ricks (20 ), James Loughnane (18 ), Paul Freeman (18 ), Patrick Lyons (12 ), John Hackett (3 ), Joseph Tummon (1 ), Kyle Cunningham, Ladmy Sila.

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