A second successive home win against the league leaders proved beyond Moycullen on Saturday night when a gallant effort came up short against a well-balanced Tralee side.
A promising start saw Moycullen go score for score with Tralee in the first quarter, but a 15-0 run for the visitors in the second quarter broke the game open for the visiting side. Turning over a 15-point deficit at the half never looked likely as Tralee eased to a 79-61 win.
While it was a second defeat in a row for Moycullen, and no help in their efforts to avoid a relegation play-off, the defensive effort and application throughout was good and the return of Grant Olsson was also a positive as they look ahead to the remaining four games and, in particular, Neptune in Cork next weekend.
The first quarter saw Moycullen play some excellent basketball as they went toe to toe with Tralee. A strong defensive effort limited Tralee’s looks, and a scoring burst off the bench from Connor Curran saw them level at 16 each as time ran out. However, Paul Dick showed his experience as he nailed a three pointer on the buzzer to give Tralee a 19-16 lead to end the quarter.
The second quarter decided the game. Tralee extended their defence, pressuring the Moycullen inbounds and taking time off the shot-clock. They dropped back into a zone which had been Moycullen’s undoing the previous week in Dublin. Once again, Moycullen struggled, but this time it related to the Tralee activity in passing lanes rather than missed scoring opportunities. Tralee forced a couple of turnovers, leading to lay-ups but also forced Moycullen into poor shot selection late in the shot clock.
At the other end, Moycullen lost concentration on a couple of occasions, leaving Bogdanovic and Buivydas open for threes, which they duly converted. Tralee’s American import, Jonathan Lawton, made a number of tough shots and a 20-23 deficit stretched to 26-41 at the half.
Moycullen battled gamely through the second half, slowly getting to grips with Tralee’s pressure, but were never in a position to make a run at the game.
Balanced scoring from Tralee kept the margin around the 20 point mark as Tralee sealed another solid win.
Moycullen coach John Cunningham was not too despondent after the game.
“It was a big improvement on the previous week," he said. "We met a lot of the targets we set ourselves for the game with Tralee’s pressure the only thing we didn’t deal well enough with. Even there, we had adjusted by the end of the game. If we can carry that performance into the Neptune game and make some more improvements on the offensive end, we’ll have a shot.”
Claire Rockall was instrumental once again for Maree women in a testing away match against Cork’s Fr Mathews, scoring 18 valuable points in a win to maintain pressure on league leaders, DCU Mercy.
A combined tally of 36-points produced by star players Gráinne Dwyer and Chantell Alford was simply not enough for Mathews struggling to string any form of momentum together in this year’s campaign. Carly McClendon and Carol McCarthy showcased their adept scoring ability also, notching 16 and 14 points respectively in what proved to be a narrow victory, winning 77-82 in the end.
Meanwhile, Maree men, like Moycullen, had a tough task against Griffith College Templeogue, currently third in the table. The Dubliners were dominant when they squared up on Saturday evening. National Cup MVP Lorcan Murphy (31 ), was excellent once again. along with strong outings from usual suspects Neil Randolph and (18 ) and Jason Killeen (16 ) to bag a 97-68 win.