By Steven Heaney (photos at end)
This past Saturday SSE Airtricity Moycullen looked to make it back-to-back wins over Dublin opposition, as they took on Templeogue in the first of a two-leg fixture as part of the Hula-Hoops Men’s National Cup.
League leaders Templeogue, jumped out to an early lead after connecting on a trio of three-pointers. Moycullen moved the ball well offensively and had some good looks but they failed to convert during early possessions. Once they settled into the encounter, they found scores through Cian Nihill, Dylan Cunningham and Patrick Lyons. Moycullen tightened up defensively towards the end of the period, but the visiting side remained efficient with their offense. At the end of the first quarter, Templeogue led by 23 points to 11.
After some baskets from James Loughnanne, Nihill and Stephen Tummon early in the second, Moycullen had pulled themselves back to within 7 points of their opposition. Unfortunately, Moycullen’s solid play lasted for only the first 7 minutes of the second quarter, until Templeogue regained control of the game. Premier League veteran Michael Bonaparte had 10 big points for the Dublin outfit in the last 3 minutes of the quarter. As the teams entered the game at halftime, Templeogue were on top by a margin of 41-25.
The third quarter began much the same way the previous ended. Behind further scores from Bonaparte and some solid long-range shooting, Templeogue managed to increase their lead over Moycullen to 25. Moycullen did their utmost to battle back into the game. Stephen Tummon, Cunningham and Nihill continued to impress, as Templeogue’s offense began to slow down. The home team also received solid contributions from players introduced from their bench, with Stephen O’ Brien, Sean Candon, Kyle Cunningham and Ronan O’ Sullivan impacting the pace of the game after their introductions. At the close of the third, Moycullen were behind by the same margin they were at the beginning of the period, as Templeogue led 61-45.
The fourth quarter was Moycullen’s best of the game. They opened the quarter firing, and multiple players filled the scoresheet. Lyons and Paul Freeman were big for their side early in the final period, contributing 5 and 6 points respectively. Moycullen were also helped in their comeback by some Templeogue indiscipline. The away side had technical and unsportsmanlike fouls called against them in quick succession, and the subsequent free throws edged the Connemara men even closer. Stephen Tummon and Freeman caused havoc for Templeogue’s big men on both ends, as the home fans really came into the match for the first time. With three minutes remaining, Moycullen had reduced the deficit to five. However, two huge scores from Sean Flood and Conor Grace took some momentum away from Moycullen at a crucial moment in the match. After further scores on both ends, Moycullen simply ran out of time to complete their comeback. The final score-line read 80-70 in favour of the visitors.
The away leg of this tie is set for early 5th December in Dublin. Next up for SSE Airtricity Moycullen is a home Premier League game against Belfast Star next Saturday at 7pm in the Kingfisher
SSE Airtricity Moycullen: Cian Nihill 15, Patrick Lyons 9, Stephen O’ Brien 2, Paul O’ Brien 4, James Loughnanne, Sean Candon, Stephen Tummon 11, Ronan O’ Sullivan 2, Kyle Cunningham, Dylan Cunningham 19, Paul Freeman 8 Coach: Nollaig Cunningham Asst Coach: Gerald Lyons