Ballincollig 82 (34)
Maigh Cuilinn 49 (22)
Maigh Cuilinn got Superleague season number thirteen off to an unlucky start with a loss on the road to last season’s table toppers Ballincollig 82 v 49.
An early injury to point guard James Loughnane and foul trouble for star American player Grant Olsson doomed what was already an unenviable away matchup in Cork.
The game started with a quick 5 – 0 run for the home side before a determined James Loughnane, on the back of some strong drives to the basket settled the visitors with a free throw.
Unfortunately, the Maigh Cuilinn talisman left the game shortly afterwards when a trademark fearless drive to the basket saw Loughnane hit the deck hard and depart nursing an injury.
He was ably replaced by Kyle Cunningham who contributed a number of deft drives and passes to teammates to free Maigh Cuilinn’s offence up as the game settled into a pattern with the home side deserving of their 18 to 7 end of first quarter advantage.
A solid Maigh Cuilinn defensive effort was keeping them in touch however and when first Joe Tummon and the James Lyons hit back to back three pointers, the visitors were within five.
Ballincollig are blessed with a plethora of natural scorers however and despite excellent team defence form Maigh Cuilinn during the second quarter, the men from the rebel county found baskets through moments of individual brilliance gifting them a 34 to 22 advantage at the half.
The game was blown wide open and in effect ended as a contest at the start of the third quarter when a 12 to 3 run for the home side had Ballincollig up 46 to 25 while Olsson’s foul trouble left him watching from the bench unable to assist.
At no point in the second half did Maigh Cuilinn look like having the scoring firepower to get back into the contest and with Ballincollig able to find buckets when needed, the Cork outfit were fair value for their continued dominance for the remainder of the game. The home side ended the third quarter up 61 to 39 before running out eventual winners 83 to 49.
Coach Cunningham did manage to get valuable early minutes for youngsters Dara Kenna, Rory O’Sullivan and Brian Gaffney, all of whom have the potential to be contributors this year and for years to come.
In the cold light of elite sport however, there is no getting away from the fact that this was a rude awakening for Maigh Cuilinn of the level they will need to get to, and quickly, if they are compete this year at Ireland’s top table of basketball against club’s with bigger resources and wider pool of professional playing talent drafted in.
49 points will not win any games this year and Maigh Cuilinn will hope in particular that Loughnane recovers in time for next weekend’s first home game (2pm on Sunday 9 October in NUIG).
Maigh Cuilinn Scorers: James Lyons 10, Joseph Tummon 9, Kyle Cunningham 8, Grant Olsson 7, Dara Kenna 4, Dylan Cunninham 3, James Connaire 3, Rory O’Sullivan 2, Ayberk Taylan 2, James Loughnane 1, Briam Gaffney, Liam Maloney