Maree will contest their second successive u-20 men’s National Cup final after a clinical victory over Killester on Saturday.
The result was a big confidence boost ahead of the final where Maree’s opponents are defending champions UCD-Marian in a rematch of last year’s decider. On that occasion the Dubliners took the title by a single point, ensuring this year’s final, which takes place in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Saturday January 30, will be a thriller.
Maree will once again be relying on Liam Conroy who was last weekend’s game-high scorer with 17.
Although Killester jumped into a 5-0 lead, Maree settled to the task of dismantling the Dubliners’ zone defence. Con Crowley got Maree’s first score from the foul line, and followed this up with a three. Fast breaks from Colm O’Hagan and George Rahmani followed, before threes from Crowley , Rahmani and Conroy pushed the Maree lead out further. It was looking ominous for Killester when Maree went to 12, but Gary Kane hit two threes and at the end of the first period, they were still in the game, though down 22-16.
Although Killester’s zone defence contained Maree’s David Hansberry inside, it gave Maree outside shooting opportunities on which Conroy capitalised. And with Maree’s defence causing turnovers, with Crowley and Colm O’Hagan pouncing for fast-break baskets, Maree increased their lead, ending the half 38-22 ahead.
It was more of the same in the third period as Conroy, David Hansberry, Ken Hansberry, Crowley and O’Hagan saw them take an unassailable lead, finishing 68 - 41 winners.
Maree: Con Crowley (14 ), Colm O’Hagan (11 ), Ciarán Harte (3 ), Céimin Burke, Conor O’Hagan (3 ), George Rahmani (5 ), Liam Conroy (17 ), Michael Rockall (3 ), Conor Graham, David Hansberry, Dáire Greene, Kenneth Hansberry (3 ), Andrew Brennan.
No hat-trick for Maree u-18s
Maree’s bid to win a third successive u-18 National Cup ended with a 64-53 loss to St Mary’s Castleisland last weekend.
It was a game the defending champions could have won, but it was hard to begrudge the Kerry team the laurels. Mary’s defence got the better of Maree, and the Galway team’s shooting on the day was that fraction off. Padraig Lucey was a significant asset to Mary’s, despite the usual huge haul of rebounds by Maree’s Ken Hansberry. Ciaran Harte had easily his best outing of the season, and Maree captain Colm O’Hagan was his all-action self, but it was not enough on the day.
With two of the Maree starters, Pádraig Burke and Enda Walsh, underage for the next two u-18 campaigns, as are many of the squad, Maree hope to bounce back next year.
Maree: Colm O’Hagan (11 ), Ken Hansberry (11 ), Ciarán Harte (13 ), Enda Walsh (9 ), Pádraig Burke (6 ), Éanna Malone (3 ), Paul Jacobsen, John Evans, Cormac Shields, Tomas Mitkus, Dónal Greene, Alan Dempsey.