Maree remain top of the men’s National League division one following a comfortable 83-60 defeat of Cork’s Blue Demons on Saturday night in Calasanctius.
Cathal Finn scored a game-high 19 points to help Maree move to 31 points with a 10-1 win-loss record. It was enough to keep the Oranmore outfit just one ahead of Swords Thunder, whose 90-76 home win against St Mary’s Castleisland saw the Kerrymen drop 10 points off the pace, although they have a game in hand. Titans, on 22, also have a game in hand and will be hoping to play it as National Cup champions after their upcoming Tallaght final this weekend against surprise packet Kilkenny, themselves 74-71 winners in an away league tie with Fr Mathews in Cork.
Demons, who won the league and cup double last season, are in rebuilding mode and came to Oranmore with a 3-7 record. Hosts Maree took the first quarter 30-16 in a powerful offensive display, with Finn, Matt Hornbuckle, Ken Hansberry and Liam Conroy all scoring five or more points, w hile Hornbuckle’s rebounding and second chances were a feature of the period.
Although the subsequent three quarters were more competitive, Maree won each; 15-14, 21-15, and finally 17-15, for a final margin of 23 points.
Hornbuckle finished with 16, while Colm O’Hagan hit a couple of threes on his way to 10, and Dave Hansberry notched eight final-quarter points. James Brophy was his usual solid self and the athletic Padraig Burke hit nine, as did Conroy.
Next up for Maree is a February 1 Castleisland clash with St Mary’s, which is expected to be their toughest game of the season to date.
Maree: James Brophy (6 ), Matt Hornbuckle (16 ), Liam Conroy (9 ), Kenneth Hansberry (6 ), Paul Jacobsen, Cathal Finn (19 ), Pádraig Burke (9 ), Jasiec Stec, Colm O’Hagan (10 ), Dave Hansberry (8 ), Enda Walsh, Charlie Crowley.