Maree Basketball Club is celebrating success this week, becoming the first Galway team to win the National League division one crown in 27 years.
Galway Democrats were the last team to win the division 1 crown in 1987, but Maree’s 74-62 defeat of Fr Mathews in Cork on Saturday night ensured this year’s title is once again coming west with one game still to play.
An eighth straight win brought this season’s tally to 12 wins and one loss and, with the final match to be played against Tolka Rovers on March 8 in Dublin, the Galway club cannot be beaten.
Nearest rivals Swords Thunder are seven points adrift with a game in hand, but can now only make up a maximum of six points if Maree lose the final fixture. And local rivals and cup winners Titans still have a shot at finishing third, but have two tough finishing games - this weekend away to St Mary’s Castleisland and on March 9 home to Thunder.
Maree’s new crown is the latest in a string of success for the Oranmore-based club which has three u-20 and two u-18 National Cups won between 2008 and 2012.
The latest victory over Coláiste Chríost Rí, Fr Mathews, saw Maree surge to a 22-10 lead at the end of the first quarter through Liam Conroy, Cathal Finn, Matt Hornbuckle, Ken Hansberry and Colm O’Hagan.
Hornbuckle hit eight on his way to a game-high 15, while Finn’s six points included a three-pointer. By the half, Maree led by 46-20, helped by successive threes from O’Hagan and Pádraig Burke, and the title was in the bag.
To their credit, Mathews did not throw in the towel, putting on a press in the third. However Maree ran out comfortable 12-point winners to be crowned National League champions after a five-month campaign.
Maree: Liam Conroy (9 pts ), Colm O’Hagan (7 ), Matt Hornbuckle (15 ), Paul Jacobsen (6 ), Cathal Finn (13 ), Charlie Crowley, Ken Hansberry (10 ), James Brophy (6 ), Pádraig Burke (8 ), Jasiek Stec, Dave Hansberry, Donal Greene, Enda Walsh.