Moycullen men’s basketball face a key series of Superleague fixtures over the next month as they bid to get their campaign on track after a difficult start to the season.
Still to win a game, Moycullen suffered a double defeat last weekend, falling to UCD Marian 95-79 and to UL Eagles 88-56.
Now they face Ulster Elks on Saturday at 6pm in Kingfisher NUIG in a fixture Moycullen will view as an opportunity to kickstart their season. Moycullen won both contests against Elks last season and most of the team were members of the historic NUIG varsity win over the same opposition in April.
However Moycullen must be wary. Elks are a stronger outfit this season as highlighted by a win over Neptune. Kevin Foley is continuing to put up big numbers and is proving an inspiration for his team, while import, Benjamin de la Cruz, is providing a solid contribution.
With both teams needing the points, it promises to be a tense encounter, preceded by the curtain raiser at 3pm between Foireann na Gaillimhe and Castleisland. It is the Galway ladies first National League game and they boast a number of Moycullen players.
Particularly frustrating for Moycullen has been their inability to protect the ball, averaging over 20 turnovers a game, and their failure to provide a consistent effort over the four quarters of the game.
Youth and inexperience is a factor, as are the injury woes that have deprived them of two starters from last season, James Loughnane and Garnett Griffin, but coach Enda Byrt will be hoping his squad can overcome these difficulties this weekend.
On Saturday Moycullen were in Dublin to face a UCD Marian side much improved from last season. They blitzed Moycullen in the first quarter with a superb display of outside shooting, powering to a 37-18 lead. The game was tit-for-tat after that with Moycullen edging the second half and at one stage even hinted at an improbable comeback. However the deficit was too big and Moycullen’s continuing tendency to turn over the ball at a high rate saw UCD ease to victory. Mason Ambler top scored for Moycullen with 28 and also pulled down an impressive 24 rebounds, while Cian Nihill hit 19.
Moycullen then hosted last season’s league and cup runners-up, and a superb defensive performance in the first half locked down the Limerick offence to be level 27-27 at the half. However in the third quarter when the game was still in the melting pot, it was the superb guard play of Scotty Kinnevane and the experience of Matt Hall in finding gaps that broke the game open for UL. And with Moycullen’s Mason Ambler fouled out early in the second half, the team struggled without his physical presence as UL Eagles ran out comfortable winners.
Moycullen v UCD Marian: Mason Ambler(28 ), Cian Nihill(19 ), Dylan Cunningham(11 ), Stephen Tummon(7 ), Mike Dowd(5 ), Mindaugus Kurcenkovas(4 ), Nollaig Cunningham(3 ), Kieran O’Connor(2 ), John Cunningham, James O’Brien, James Brophy.
Moycullen v UL Eagles: Dylan Cunningham(17 ), Cian Nihill(14 ), Stephen Tummon(9 ), John Cunningham(6 ), Mike Dowd(4 ), Nollaig Cunningham(3 ), Mindaugus Kurcenkovas(2 ), Mason Ambler(1 ), James Loughnane, Kevin McDonald, Kieran O’Connor, James O’Brien.