Maree Basketball Club is preparing to contest two National Cup finals in Tallaght on the last weekend in January following semi-final action last weekend in Cork.
The Oranmore-Maree-based club will meet Templeogue in the u-18 men’s final – a repeat of the 2009 final won by Maree. Maree will be also looking for a third consecutive u-20 title when they take on Killester.
In the other two semi-finals the club contested, Maree Senior Men, with a starting five of average age 20, bowed out to UCD Marian, while Maree u-18 Women went all the way to the final minute before losing out to Tralee Imperials.
Men’s u-20 semi-final Maree 91 Moycullen 61
Maree enjoyed a comfortable 91-61 win over neighbours and rivals Moycullen in the u- 20 men’s National Cup fixture.
Although both sides struggled in the opening minutes, it was Moycullen’s Ian Burke, from the top of the key, who grabbed the first points of the game.
A youthful Moycullen continued to dominate with baskets from Stephen O’Brien and Dylan Costelloe until Maree’s Kenneth Hansberry replied for the winners’ first points.
Maree captain Colm O’Hagan continued for his side and, applying a full court press, Maree increased their lead slowly. Moycullen regained their composure after a reverse lay-up by Dylan Costelloe to keep the score within reach.
Despite Costelloe’s 17-point effort in the first half, Moycullen struggled to handle the power of Kenneth Hansberry who dominated the floor. Hansberry led the scoring assault as Maree surged forward on the scoreboard and increased their lead to double digits. A boost in intensity on the Maree side found them supporting the post player as he netted eight points in less than 30 seconds to finish the second quarter 54-37.
Maree continued to dominate in the second half with Padraig Burke and Ciaran Harte controlling the score line by combining for 16 points in the third quarter while Maree’s defensive end held Moycullen to only five points during the ten minutes.
Maree sailed through the fourth quarter as Hansberry, Burke and O’Hagan reigned on both ends of the floor after combining for 65 points and aiding the 30-point victory over Moycullen. Moycullen will take heart from this display with only one player being over age next year. Best scorers for the losers were Dylan Costello (18 ), Patrick Lyons (9 ) and Andrew Brady (6 ).
Maree: Colm O’Hagan (14 ), Enda Walsh (12 ), Ken Hansberry (28 ), Ciarán Harte (9 ), Pádraig Burke (23 ), Brian Kelly (5 ), Alan Dempsey, Eavan Finn, Dónal Greene, Cormac Shields, Seán Moran, Craig Hansberry.
Moycullen: Dylan Costelloe (17 ), Patrick Lyons (11 ), Ian Burke (7 ), Stephen O Brien (7 ), Andrew Brady (6 ), Rory Gilson (6 ), Evan Costelloe (5 ), Evan Bleasedale (3 ), Liam Barber, Seamus Garrity.
Men’s u-18 semi-final Maree 53 Dublin Raiders 51
Six of the successful u-20s lined out the following day in the u-18 semi-final against Dublin Raiders. In a contest which kept supporters on the edge of their seats Maree looked the more dangerous on the fast break, while Raiders looked to have more options in the half-court offence.
Raiders were evidently acutely conscious of the threat posed by big Enda Walsh, and their attention to defending him gave opportunities to Maree’s shooting guards, particularly Cormac Shields, who hit his side’s first five points. Maree led 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Raiders came right back and took a 31-28 half-time lead. Maree’s Pádraig Burke began to increase the tempo and scored the first six points of Maree’s 14, edging ahead by six going into the last quarter. The last five minutes was a story of relentless Raiders’ pressure against an unyielding Maree defence, with Eavan Finn exemplary, and Maree held out. They will face Templeogue, comfortable 76-62 winners over Swords in the other semi-final.
Maree: Enda Walsh (14 ), Pádraig Burke (17 ), Joseph Henry, Eavan Finn (3 ), Seán Moran (1 ), Cormac Shields (9 ), Craig Hansberry (9 ), Ryan Murray, Oisín Galvin.
Women’s u-18 semi-final Maree 58 Tralee Imperials 66
Maree, three points behind at the half and 10 adrift after three, brought it back to a four-point deficit through hard work and refusal to lie down. With a bit of luck they might have pulled off the upset of the weekend, but ultimately the Maree fightback was ended with a controversial technical against the excellent Ailish O’Reilly. Maree had matched Tralee at both ends of the floor. In defence Eimear Walsh and Ellen Greene dominated their own rebounds, while Caitríona Finn, Aileen Crowley and Ailish O’Reilly stopped clear outside shots to the taller Tralee sharpshooters. Crowley’s huge three was in reply to a couple of early Tralee baskets, and she went on to hit nine of Maree’s first-quarter 15 points. In the second, O’Reilly was almost unstoppable, drawing foul after foul, and she and Greene were good for four points, but Maree had it all to do in the last quarter. Ten from O’Reilly, five from Finn, and a crucial basket from Walsh were all features, but Finn’s foul-out and O’Reilly’s technical finally put paid to Maree’s hopes.
Maree: Ailish O’Reilly (23 ), Caitríona Finn (7 ), Aileen Crowley (12 ), Sinéad Harte (1 ), Eimear Walsh (7 ), Ellen Greene (8 ), Fiona Shiel, Sinéad Considine, Katie Rock, Natasha Crawford (inj ).
Senior men Maree 44 UCD-Marian 54
Five of the Maree team involved in the u-20 semi-final win (two of whom had also starred in the u-18 victory ) lined out again for the seniors against favourites Marion. Although Maree enjoyed a great first quarter, leading by 20-10, that was as good as it got. Marian had levelled by the third quarter, and in the last they took the lead and slowly extended it to 10 in the end.
Maree: Con Crowley (C, 4 ), Liam Conroy (9 ), Colm O’Hagan (10 ), Darren Callanan, Enda Walsh (4 ), Jack Conroy, James Brophy, Ken Hansberry (17 ), Ciarán Harte, Pádraig Burke, Ciarán Considine.