In their most disappointing performance of what has been a difficult season, Moycullen sleptwalked through the first two quarters on Saturday, managing only 25 points by the half at which stage they trailed by 29 points to an efficient Neptune side. Unable to finish open chances and turning over the ball far to often, they gifted a confident Neptune outfit score after score. Credit the home team with their second half effort, sparked by Michael Dowd with a great lay up down the lane right at the start of the third quarter. Garnett Griffin, playing his first game after his knee surgery last summer, hit some fine open shots in the second half run as Moycullen opened up and began to build some momentum. They outscored Neptune in the second half but the damage had been done in the first quarter and there was no catching the Cork team. The most frustrating element of the result was the fact that, despite the scoreline, Neptune were far from an unbeatable force and just capitalised on Moycullen's shortcomings. The team have a two week break now to sort out their difficulties before an away trip to Killester on Dec 18.
You would have imagined that, as the home team, in their last home game before Christmas, Moycullen would have come out full of fire. However, the opposite was the case. They began tentatively on offence and were all at sea on defence as virtually all of Neptune's early points came off lay-ups or close in scores. Ger Noonan tormented Moycullen, splitting their defence and either handing off to his team mates or scoring himself. Phil Taylor and Michael Bonaparte were the major benefactors, sharing 16 points with Noonan contributing 10 of his own. Moycullen's only response was through Mason Ambler who battled manfully to stem the tide. The second quarter saw more of the same. Moycullen's defence did improve but, when denied on the inside, Neptune showed they could knock down outside shots as well, with Mick McGinn connecting on 7 of his game-high 28 points. Ambler again chipped in his share but Moycullen could only get two other baskets in the quarter from Garnett Griffin and Dylan Cunningham. The half time score was 55-26.
The second half could conceivably have followed the same pattern as the first. Fortunately for Moycullen, they showed some pride and worked hard to get some value out of the contest. Mike Dowd led the way and Eoghan Maxwell also chipped in with a hard working effort of the bench. A 6-0 start was followed by a pair of Garnett Griffin three pointers to cut the margin to 18. However, as the Moycullen fans were beginning to harbour hopes of an amazing comeback, Mick McGinn answered Griffin's second three with one of his own to steady the Neptune ship. From there to the quarters end, the teams went basket for basket in what was now an entertaining contest. McGinn was to the fore for the visitors and Bonaparte was efficient from the line while Ambler and Stephen Tummon combined well inside for the home team. The quarter ended on a 77-54 scoreline. The fourth quarter continued the pattern of the third - McGinn leading the way for Neptune and Dowd, Tummon and Ambler to the fore for Moycullen. The contest ended with Neptune clear winners on a 100-74 scoreline.
Despite the terrible first half, there were some positives in the Moycullen efforts. Mason Ambler had another big game, scoring 30 points and pulling down 17 rebounds while Eoghan Maxwell played with good confidence and staked a claim for increased court time. Garnett Griffin showed what he can do when injury free and, as his fitness improves, he will be a valuable addition. Paul O'Brien was also back from injury and James Loughnane looks to have completely recovered fron the groin injury that has disrupted his season. Coach Byrt will hope the team will be back to full strength in the new year when top scorer Cian Nihill should have recovered from the ankle injury that his seen him sit out recent games. At full strength, and fully focussed, they can match up with most teams in the league, but, if understrength or if their attitude or application is any way short of 100 per cent, they just can't compete. The injuries are to a certain degree out of anyone's control but the attitude and application is firmly in the hands of the players and management.
Moycullen: Mason Ambler (30 ), Steven Tummon (10 ), Garnett Griffin (8 ), James Loughnane (6 ), Michael Dowd(6 ), Dylan Cunningham (5 ), Eoghan Maxwell (4 ), Paul O'Brien (3 ), John Cunningham (2 ), Nollaig Cunningham, Gerald Lyons, Kieran O'Connor. Coach: Enda Byrt.
Coach Byrt said afterwards that the team has to take positives from the very strong second half performance, without Mindaugas and Cian.
“It was encouraging to see Garnett Griffin return and show his potential contribution. With no game until December 18 the team will concentrate on conditioning and shooting drills in the interim,” he said