Garveys St Mary’s : 81
Loftus Recycling : 61
After three good wins in the road, Team Loftus Recycling were well beaten at home on Saturday night when national senior cup champions, Garveys St Marys’, Castleisland, came to town and inflicted a 20-point defeat on the Ballina men. With Liam McHale unavailable and both Paul Barrett and Dara McGarrity clearly lacking match practice, it fell to Peter Papic, Taofic Mustapha, and Willie Popplewell to get the bulk of the scores for the home side. While all three performed well, a very poor start by Team Loftus cost them two league points that might have seen them go straight into the semi-finals without having to play a quarter final which they will now play at home next Saturday at 7.30pm.
Very poor defence by Loftus Recycling saw the visitors race into an early lead and they had 10 points on the board before Papic managed to sneak inside for the first basket for the home team. Veteran Anthony McHale was introduced to shore up the defence but, mid way through the quarter, St Mary’s led by 11-2 and were clearly intent on winning this game. Their defence was rock solid and Ballina found scores very hard to come by. They managed only three baskets and two free throws in the first period, while the visitors gave a shooting exhibition at the other end of the court with team captain, Declan Wall, landing 17 points, including three three-pointers, in the quarter alone. Wall finished the game with a game high of 28. The Ballina outside shooting was poor and they managed to land just three outside baskets for the game compared with a tally of 11 for the Kerry men.
Loftus Recycling started the second quarter with a 22-point deficit (30-8 ) and clearly had a mountain to climb. An early basket from Mustapha, followed by two good scores from Popplewell who had rejoined the game having been earlier substituted, raised some hope for Ballina and they started to play better basketball. Papic and Popplewell added further points but three more outside baskets by St Mary’s ensured that they maintained their lead and, in fact, extended it to 27 by half-time with the score at 52-25. It was a case of damage limitation after that.
In fairness to Ballina, they continued to battle hard and they actually outscored their opponents in both the third and final quarters to make the scoreboard look much more respectable than it might have. While the Castleisland defence remained very solid, and Wall chipped in with two more three-pointers, Mustapha, Papic, and Popplewell managed to clock up 14 points in the third period and Paul Barrett added another two just before the break to narrow the gap slightly (66-41 ).
In the final period, the Team Loftus coach for the night, Sean McHale, introduced two of his younger players in Colin O’Malley and Neil McHale as well as the more experienced Colm Leonard. All three did well with young O’Malley nailing a good three-pointer while Papic also hit two good outside shots in the final period. Mustapha hit eight more points but the visitors’ lead was simply too great and three more three-point shots from Declan Cahill, Ruairai Rahilly, and Brian Clernan ensured that they finished the game with 20 points to spare.
Loftus Recycling: Peter Papic (17 ), Taofic Mustapha (19 ), Willie Popplewell (12 ), Anthony McHale (1 ), Colm Leonard, Dara McGarrity (4 ) Neil MacHale, Mark Cunningham, Colin O’Malley (3 ).
St Mary’s: Declan Wall (28 ), John Galvin (12 ), Michael Broderick (4 ), Brian Clernan (10 ), Tom Fleming (2 ), Viktoras Velykis (15 ), Donal McCarthy, Ruairi Cahill (8 ).