A titanic defensive performance was not enough to get Moycullen through to the semi final of the National Cup as a torrid shooting night saw them lose on the road to Tralee Warriors 77 to 62.
A strong start had the visitors from the west trailing by just three at the end of the first quarter but a measly eight points scored in the second quarter meant that they could not capitalise on what was a strong platform defensively.
Two dagger three pointers back to back by Tralee in the closing seconds of the second quarter built a double digit lead for the home side that they would maintain for the majority of the remainder of the game.
A feature of Moycullen performances this year has been their late game surge, albeit one that ultimately falls just short. This game proved to be yet another example of this pattern when a storming fourth quarter run had them back within a single basket and a little over two minutes remaining.
A costly turnover when they had the chance to level up proceedings resulted in a Tralee break away and easy score. Rather unbelievably, Tralee would close out the game from there with 10 unanswered points and a flattering final margin of 15 points.
That said, credit to Tralee, league winners in 2019, who were ultimately worthy of the victory as their balance of scoring options and powerful wing Daniel Jokubaitis in particular, showed that necessary touch of offensive class throughout to edge proceedings.
The gap, small but decisive, was evident in one of the final possessions of the game when Moycullen, still within shouting distance of pulling off the upset huffed and puffed on offence but ultimately missed an open shot. On Tralee’s subsequent trip down the court, Jokubaitis was forced into the corner, out of options but scored a spectacular step back three pointer with the hand of Moycullen’s James Lyons in his face.
Several Tralee players, forced to do so by excellent Moycullen defence to do so, were able to make really difficult shots under pressure throughout the game while repeatedly, Moycullen failed to convert really scorable chances created by good team play.
Although undoubtedly disappointing, the overall good play must engender hope for the Galway side who will know that if they can find their shooting touch, the foundation is there for wins ahead.
The loss ends Moycullen’s hopes of cup glory for another year and John Cunningham’s charges will now be turning their attention to league action once more and a trip to Dublin to face UCD Marian on Sunday.
Speaking after the game in Tralee, Moycullen professional American Grant Olsson lamented what he saw as real opportunity missed.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game when we got back to within a score,” said Olsson.
“But unfortunately we perhaps got a little tight on what was overall a bad offensive night for us and had a few costly turnovers which they ran in for easy scores on the other end and with that what could have been a really great win ends up being a missed opportunity.”
“We have another chance to get something positive this weekend coming when we go to UCD and whatever else about this Moycullen team, we have a great spirit and I have no doubt we’ll be ready and energised again come Sunday.”
Moycullen Scorers: Grant Olsson 18, Connor Curran 14, Paul Kelly 12, Kyle Cunningham 9, Joseph Tummon 7, Eoghan Kelly 2, James Lyons, Marko Babic, Joe Morris, Dylan Cunningham, Kevin Nugent, Rory O’Sullivan