Moycullen return to NUIG Kingfisher on Saturday (8pm ) for an important fixture in their hopes of making this year's Super League basketball play-offs.
Belfast Star are the visitors for Moycullen's 10th Super League game of the season, and coach John Cunningham knows these home games will go a long way determining the club's ambitions this season.
“This is a key game for both teams in the battle to make the top six and the end of season playoffs," he says. “We’re hoping for a huge home turn-out for one of the biggest games of our season.”
These two clubs have produced huge tussles over the years - last year Moycullen prevailed in Belfast by 76-74 before Star turned the tables in Galway, edging the contest by 74-71.
However this season Moycullen have greater expectations, particularly after the fine start to the season which sees them mid-table with five wins from eight. And they will be keen to get back to winning ways after a late 86-82 loss to Superleague champions Templeogue in Inchicore last weekend.
Templeogue overcame a 10-point deficit to win 86-82, ending Moycullen's four game winning streak.
The westerners had dominated for much of the contest, but Templeogue showed the champions’ class when it was needed most, finding the three-pointers late in the game that Moycullen could not.
Moycullen’s Brandon McGuire produced a tremendous personal effort, top scoring with an impressive 35 points.
“We have to take the many positive elements that were present in the game for us and carry them through to next weekend’s home encounter with Belfast Star,” says John Cunningham.
“Credit to Templeogue. They hung in when we were on top and kept themselves close, so that late in the game, they could up their defence a little and use their extra experience of late game battles to drag themselves over the line.”
Moycullen built well on their four-point halftime lead, as guards Patrick Lyons and James Loughnane relentlessly attacked the Dubliner’s defence.
With Dylan Cunningham shackling the efforts of Templeogue star Michael Bonaparte on the defensive end, while also chipping in a personal season high 18 points, Moycullen began to edge away from the champions.
Moycullen led 74 to 64 at the end of the third, but in the vital final period, only McGuire was able to find the basket as the Galway men’s offence all but dried up.
Moycullen’s failure to find a killer instinct was to prove fatal, and Templeogue stormed back into the match. Cheered on by a boisterous home crowd, Templeogue found form at the right time.
With the game hanging in the balance, big baskets from Templeogue’s Irish international duo of Neil Randolph and Jason Killeen sealed a nail-biter of a win for the home side.
While Moycullen will be disappointed with the loss, the team will take solace that, not for the first time this season, they have faced one of the favourites for the league title and been in the driving seat for most of the game.
Moycullen: Brandon McGuire (35 ), Dylan Cunningham (18 ), Patrick Lyons (10 ), Cian Nihill (9 ), Paul Freeman (6 ), James Loughnane (2 ), Joe Tummon (2 ), Kyle Cunningham, Rory Gilson. Coach: John Cunningham.