Moycullen face one of their biggest challenges of the season when they travel to Dublin for a clash with Super League leaders UCD Marian on Saturday (8pm ).
After two defeats on the trot after a super start to the season, Moycullen will be looking to regain that winning form to keep alive their hopes of a league semi-final.
A slow start last weekend against Belfast Star at NUIG Kingfisher meant the home side was forced to chase the game, and they never fully recovered, losing 80-75.
“We’re disappointed with not getting a positive result,” Moycullen coach John Cunningham says.
“We'd been on a good run, but we started very flat. Star did their homework on us, and they took us out of our rhythm and the bad start cost us.”
Moycullen did not help themselves with some poor shooting in the first quarter, while at the other end Belfast connected on on a trio of three-point shots in quick succession.
Moycullen eventually found good looks through Brandon McGuire and Cian Nihill, but Belfast’s early burst had them ahead at the end of the first.
The second continued in the same vein. Moycullen had to work extremely hard for every basket, while Star continued to score with relative ease. McGuire and Nihill continued to be Moycullen’s only scoring threats, and each picked up six points in the second. A pair of costly turnovers late on allowed Star to extend their lead to 12 points at halftime.
Moycullen’s play improved substantially in the third. Within the first couple of minutes Moycullen’s defensive intensity was such that they forced a pair of Belfast shot clock violations.
The Connemara men’s offensive play also picked up, with Kyle Cunningham, Paul Freeman, Dylan Cunningham and James Loughnane each contributing. Loughnane looked particularly sharp with 10 points in the third, and with that momentum, Moycullen reduced Star’s lead to five.
However in a scrappy final quarter in which both sides committed a handful of turnovers, Moycullen looked like finding the necessary rhythm then to stage a late charge. And after a pair of jumpshots from Nihill and Patrick Lyons, Moycullen were just a point behind with a minute remaining.
On the ensuing possession, a huge basket from Belfast’s Paddy McGaharan sucked the air out of the gym, and Moycullen were forced to intentionally foul to keep time of the clock. Thereafter, both teams exchanged free throws, and Belfast held on to their five-point lead until time expired.
Moycullen: Brandon Mcguire (29 ), James Loughnanne (15 ), Cian Nihill (15 ) Patrick Lyons (10 ), Dylan Cunningham (6 ), Kyle Cunningham (3 ), Paul Freeman (2 ), Mark Convery, Conor Curran, James Lyons, Joseph Tummon, Paul Kelly. Coach: John Cunningham.
Maree secured their second win of the season on Sunday against KUBS, winning 71-78 in Greendale.