Saturday’s fixture with Superleague leaders UL Eagles should provide a baramoter of Moycullen’s progress this season.
The two sides meet on Saturday in the UL Arena (7.30pm ) in the final fixture before the short Christmas break.
In their last meeting newcomers Moycullen lost by 15 points in Galway, but they will be hoping to be much closer on Saturday. As the season has progressed Moycullen have gained huge confidence and last weekend recorded their third win on the trot.
They overcame Hoops by 72 - 64 in Leitir Mór despite a poor start. Inspired by the magnificent defence of James Loughnane, they slowly closed the gap, eventually taking the lead early in the fourth and easing to a comfortable 72-64 victory.
Despite a poor shooting performance, they were able to dominate defensively and shut down a dangerous Hoops team, particularly the output of 6’ 8’’, 350 lb Carlton Aaron.
Hoops came out gunning with Gary Grace (2 ) and Joey Haastrup connecting on early three-pointers. Cian Nihill scored Moycullen’s first score while Dylan Cunningham connected on a three as Moycullen looked to dig themselves out of the early hole. However Hoops continued to dominate before five points from James Loughnane narrowed the gap to 21-14 at the quarter’s end.
Moycullen upped their defensive pressure, forcing a number of turnovers and eight-second violations. However the defence was not rewarded at the other end as the team struggled to make a decent percentage of their open shots, and they still trailed by five at the half, 34-29.
That scoring frustration continued, and while Nihill and Fritsch chipped away on the scoring front with Fritsch finally finding his range from the three point line, Moycullen still trailed by five, 53-48.
Finally the defensive pressure paid off and Moycullen converted on the break with the impressive Dylan Cunningham and James Loughnane combining for seven points. Cian Nihill nailed a three and when Mindaugus levelled the game at 60-60 with his first score, there was only going to be one outcome. Hoops could only manage four more points while Moycullen tagged on another 12.
Moycullen: Cian Nihill (19 ), Nate Fritsch (18 ), James Loughnane (14 ), Dylan Cunningham (11 ), Mindaugus Kurcenkovas (4 ), John Cunningham (4 ), Michael Dowd (2 ), Nollaig Cunningham, Puff Summers, Eoghan Maxwell, Paul O’Brien, James O’Brien. Coach: Enda Byrt.
Hoops: Carlton Aaron (24 ), Phil Taylor (16 ), Joey Haastrup (9 ), Gary Grace (6 ), Ian Lynch (4 ), Kamil Janiszewski (3 ), Ciaran Rowe (2 ), Ian Wilson, Martin Guilfoyle, Neil Lynch. Coach: Ahmad Smith.