Maree’s comeback sinks Neptune

Maree, still top of the Men’s National League Southern Conference, turn their attention to cup action this weekend.

Having returned to winning ways in Cork on Saturday night with a hard-fought 70-64 win over Neptune, Maree will be keen to enjoy a strong cup run when they face Fr Matthews of Cork in Calasanctius gym at 7.45pm.

Maree, who are making a habit of winning from behind, were forced to recover from a 15-point deficit at the Neptune Stadium last weekend in another nail-biting finish.

Behind 32-17 in the second quarter, Maree clawed their way back into the game, despite the absence of three of their big men, Linas Mitkus, Dave Hansberry and Sarunas Zvirblinskas. However it was Maree's youngest player, 16-years-old Tomas Mitkus, who was to play a pivotal role before the contest ended.

Neptune took the first quarter 18-0 as they hit two three-pointers in that period and five in the game, with Con Crowley hitting Maree’s sole long range score. Five points each from Danny Finn and Liam Conroy helped Maree shade the second period, reducing the deficit to seven points in a low-scoring game, but Neptune still looked comfortable with a 33 - 26 lead.

The third period saw some trench warfare, as Maree, despite their youth, stood their ground. Neptune captain Kieran Reddy continued to lead his team, but five more from Finn helped Maree win the period 17-12, leaving Neptune just ahead 45-43.

Six points from Thomas Mitkus, who finished the game’s high scorer on 28, followed by a three from Crowley, saw Maree eventually tie the game 57-57. Maree then had six possessions and chances before they finally took a lead with minutes remaining.

Neptune were forced to change to a full-court press, but Maree, with good passing from the backcourt guards, handed Tomas Mitkus a succession of uncontested lay-ups from the short corner. He showed poise in converting these on his way to a last quarter tally of 16, and with Callanan and Hansberry fouled out, Mitkus also grabbed four offensive rebounds.

Maree: Con Crowley (5 ), Colm O’Hagan, Danny Finn (14 ), Darren Callanan (4 ), Niall Higgins, Liam Conroy (15 ), Ciaran Harte, Brian Kelly, Ken Hansberry (4 ), Tomas Mitkus (28 ).


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