Maree’s debut season in the National League ended in Castleisland on Saturday night.
Having finished second in the southern conference and beaten Tolka Rovers in the league quarter-finals, Maree just came up short in the semi-finals, losing 95-81 to St Mary’s - the unbeaten cup champions who are on course for the double.
It ended an encouraging debut season for a Maree squad with 11 players under 21. Five players averaged 10 points or more per game over the course of the 17-game campaign. Eighteen-years-old Liam Conroy hit 317 points (average 19 ). Linas Mitkus, who was restricted to just six appearances, racked up 109 (av 18 ). Danny Finn, while studying in Edinburgh, commuted for nine games, finishing with 138 (av 15 ), while Sarunas Zvirblinskas amassed 204 (av 13 ) and Dave Hansberry recorded 182 (av 11 ).
On Saturday evening Linas Mitkus was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, while Con Crowley was good for 19.
Threes from Liam Conroy and Con Crowley – who had his best game of the season – helped the visitors to settle. Declan Wall and dual star John Galvin were on target for Castleisland, and although the hosts had a significant height advantage, Maree’s David Hansberry made light of it, hitting eight points in the opening quarter.
Linas Mitkus, introduced before the quarter’s end, immediately hit a big basket, and the quarter ended with Castleisland ahead 24-20.
Mitkus was on fire at the start of the second quarter, pulling down rebounds and hitting his side’s first 10 points. Liam Conroy added seven, and Maree were matching Castleisland at both ends in what was turning into a close, exciting game. At the half only a point separated the sides, with St Mary’s shading it 46-45.
In the third St Mary’s hit 28 points, while Maree’s 24 included eight from Crowley and six from Danny Finn. Although the home side led 74-69, it was still game on, but then the height, pace and age difference began to tell. Despite a further five points from Mitkus, Maree’s scoring rate dropped. Gradually St Mary’s extended their lead and the game ended St Mary’s 95-Maree 81.