Maree Basketball Club, with four teams, is the best represented club in Ireland in the 2012 National Cup semi-finals in Cork this weekend.
In only their third season, Maree National League men’s team square up with UCD Marian at 12 noon on Sunday in the Neptune Stadium. Two hours earlier in the Parochial Hall Gurranabraher, the Maree u-18 women tussle with Tralee Imperials, while at the same time and venue a day earlier, Maree’s u-18 men lock horns with Dublin Raiders. The fourth team in action sees Maree’s u- 20 men take on neighbours and perennial rivals Moycullen in a fixcture which kickstarts th weekend on Friday night (8.30pm ) at the same venue.
Three players, Tomas Mitkus, Enda Walsh and Pádraig Burke, play on the u-18, u-20 and National League teams. Maree will have their fingers crossed that Mitkus recovers from an ankle injury sustained in an u-18 friendly in Kerry last Saturday. Ken Hansberry, Colm O’Hagan and Ciarán Harte are due to line out for both the u-20s and National League team, which is easily the youngest in the senior competition. Despite their youth, the team boasts considerable experience in finals. Danny Finn (injured ), Darren Callanan, Jack Conroy and Ciarán Considine are considered the veterans of the team despite being in their early 20s, while Liam Conroy and Con Crowley and 19-years-old Colm O’Hagan, have each won two u-18 and two u-20 National Cup titles, while Ken Hansberry and Ciarán Harte are close behind with three titles each.
In the last two cup rounds Maree enjoyed wins over Fr Mathews (Cork ) 84 - 49 and Galway Titans 78 - 75, while last weekend they secured a League victory over St Brendan’s by 102 – 80. Conroy hit 39 points and Hansberry and Brophy were good for 15 apiece. However, UCD Marian, who won the senior men’s cup in 2007, and are considerably bigger, lead the Dublin division one league with a 5 - 1 record, and will start favourites.
Maree men: Con Crowley (captain ), Liam Conroy, Colm O’Hagan, Darren Callanan, Enda Walsh, Jack Conroy, James Brophy, Ken Hansberry, Ciarán Harte, Tomas Mitkus, Pádraig Burke, Ciarán Considine.
Fourth semi-final for u-20s
Maree u-20s have qualified for a fourth consecutive semi-final, reaching all three previous finals. They took the 2010 cup with victory over UCD Marian, and retained it in 2011 against Blue Demons of Cork. In the rounds of 16 and 8 respectively, the results were Maree 105 Donegal Town 60; and Maree 72 Éanna (Dublin ) 49. Moycullen took the title in 2008, but Maree must be favourites to prevail in 2012. One way or the other, Galway will again be represented in the 2012 final in Tallaght at the end of January. The other semi-final pitches Killester against fellow Dublin northsiders Tolka Rovers.
Maree u-20 men: Colm O’Hagan, Enda Walsh, Ken Hansberry, Ciarán Harte, Tomas Mitkus, Pádraig Burke, Alan Dempsey, Eavan Finn, Cormac Shields, Craig Hansberry, Shane Geoghegan, Seán Moran, Craig Hansberry, Ryan Murray.
Maree u-18s face Raiders
The u-18 men’s semi will be Maree’s third in four years. Maree took the cup in 2008, beating Ballincollig, and retained it in 2009, defeating Templeogue. This season Maree have won all four games in their preliminary tournament before overcoming Killester by 80 - 42 in the quarter-final. The other semi-final is an all-Dublin affair between Swords and Templeogue.
Maree u-18 men: Tomas Mitkus, Enda Walsh, Pádraig Burke, Joseph Henry, Eavan Finn, Seán Moran, Cormac Shields, Craig Hansberry, Ryan Murray, Oisín Galvin.
The u-18 Maree women’s team has crept up almost unnoticed, and are the least favoured of the four Maree teams. Yet history shows that it was the Maree u-18 women’s team which advanced to the club’s first National Cup final in 2007, and won a first title in 2008 (a couple of hours before the u-18 men made it an unforgettable double ). This will be the club’s fourth semi-final in six years. This group of Maree players won the All-Ireland club title when they were u-14, and they now face Tralee Imperials who took the Kerry Cup two weeks ago with a good win over Castleisland. The other semi-final is between Brunel (Cork ) and Meteors (Dublin ).
Maree u-18 women: Ailish O’Reilly, Caitríona Finn, Aileen Crowley, Sinéad Harte, Eimear Walsh, Ellen Greene, Fiona Shiel, Sinéad Considine, Katie Rock, Natasha Crawford.
In the schools’ cups two Galway colleges are in action tomorrow. First up at 11am is the u-16B boys’ event which sees St Paul’s Oughterard pitted against Christian Brothers College,Cork, followed by the u-16A boys at 1pm when St Joseph’s, Galway take on Colaiste Eanna, Dublin. Both games take place at the University of Limerick, UL Arena.