Maree host league leaders in Oranmore as Moycullen hit the road

Moycullen captain James Loughnane shoots against Tralee's Darragh O'Hanlon and Kieran Donaghy in action from the Basketball Ireland  Superleague  game at Kingfisher NUI Galway on Saturday night. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Moycullen captain James Loughnane shoots against Tralee's Darragh O'Hanlon and Kieran Donaghy in action from the Basketball Ireland Superleague game at Kingfisher NUI Galway on Saturday night. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Moycullen are focused on achieving another valuable win on the road when they travel to Dublin to face a struggling Eanna BC at Colaiste Eanna on Saturday (7pm ).

The Connemara club will be confident heading to the capital after running Tralee Warriors close last weekend, while at home in Oranmore, Maree will have a difficult assignment when they host Super League leaders UCD Marion in 7.45pm in the Oranmore Community Centre.

Both Moycullen and Tralee Warriors were the in-form teams when they met at NUI Galway Kingfisher gym on Saturday evening. Although the lead changed hands multiple times throughout the game, Tralee took charge in the final minutes to finish with a three point win, 76-73, having enjoyed a similar victory over Moycullen earlier in the season.

The game’s first quarter was played at a high-pace with the sides matching each other score for score. Moycullen’s Brandon McGuire continued his run of impressive performances, and he carried the scoring load for the Connemara men early on.

The second quarter continued in the same vein. James Loughnanne and Paul Freeman connected on a handful of scores for the home side. Tralee, however, were able to find responses to each Moycullen run. Their captain, All-Ireland winner Kieran Donaghy, looked impressive during the second, slashing to the basket and finishing inside.

After a couple of silly Moycullen turnovers, Tralee edged themselves ahead. Moycullen were down five with 10 seconds remaining when James Loughnanne secured a rebound, raced up the court and drilled a three-pointer as time expired, giving his side some momentum going into the changing rooms at half-time.

In the third McGuire and Loughnanne continued to produce for Moycullen. McGuire poured in 11 points in the third and Loughnanne knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to put Moycullen up 8, and giving his side there largest lead of the game to that point.

Tralee fought back though. Donaghy, and Tralee’s American player Trey Pemberton caught fire towards the end of the third, levelling the proceedings going into the final quarter.

In the final quarter Tralee came out firing. Pemberton continued to score at will, hitting a trio of three-point shots which quietened the Moycullen faithful.

After a timeout, Moycullen dug in defensively, in the hopes of pulling themselves back into the game. With under two minutes remaining, Dylan Cunningham and Cian Nihill converted two timely layups to bring Moycullen back within five points. After Kieran Donaghy split a pair of free-throws, Paul Freeman went to the line and hit two free-throws of his own.

On the ensuing possession, Moycullen came up with a solid defensive stop, but on their next offense, Freeman was called for an illegal screen, giving the ball back to the Kerrymen.

Again Moycullen managed to get a stop, and with only three seconds remaining and no timeouts left to advance the ball, Patrick Lyons threw up a 3/4 court prayer as time expired. Unfortunately, the shot rimmed out, and Tralee left Galway with the narrow victory.

Moycullen Scorers: Paul Freeman (22 ), James Loughnanne (19 ), Brandon McGuire (12 ), Dylan Cunningham (7 ), Cian Nihill (7 ), Stephen Tummon (4 ), Joseph Tummon (2 ), Patrick Lyons, James Lyons, Mark Convery, Kyle Cunningham.

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