DBS Eanna 74 (28)
Maigh Cuilinn 63 (27)
A fast start and early lead was not enough to earn Maigh Cuilinn back to back wins in the Basketball Ireland Men’s Superleague as a resilient DBS Eanna, playing at home, rallied well to win 74 to 63.
Maigh Cuilinn, clearly inspired and playing with confidence after their recent win against UCC Demons, had hit the ground running in the game as baskets from Joe Tummon, Grant Olsson and Dara Kenna saw the men from the west earn an eight point cushion as the first quarter drew to a close.
A purple patch for DBS Eanna midway through the second quarter brought proceedings back level and from there to the very dying minutes, the gap between the teams was rarely more than a couple of baskets either way.
Given their shortened bench rotations due to a long injury list, the clear tactic from the visitors was to slow the pace of the game and this was something they largely achieved despite a full court press by DBS Eanna occasionally speeding them up and causing some costly turnovers at times.
With their deliberate style on offence and another outstanding performance by Grant Olsson (who finished with a personal tally of 27 points), Maigh Cuilnn were able to keep the home crowd from generating much momentum.
While Olsson was without a doubt the leading light, there were good offensive displays also from the Cunningham brothers Dylan and Kyle, who combined for 22 points.
The nice spread of scoring combined with a typically dogged defensive display meant that with four minutes to go, the Galway outfit were in with a great chance of an upset win on the road.
Two unfortunate turnovers back to back followed by an extremely difficult ‘step back’ three pointer under pressure by the impressive Krisrijan Andabaka for DBS Eanna gave the home team the small bit of breathing room they had lacked for the majority of the evening.
In the end, Maigh Cuilinn gambles in the closing possessions did not come off and what had been a three point gap with four minutes left, stretched for a finish to a flattering 11 point winning margin for DBS Eanna.
After the final buzzer sounded, a visibly relieved DBS Eanna head coach Darren McGovern was glad to walk away with a win from a game where his much fancied team had been pushed all the way by a plucky Maigh Cuilinn still battling without the services of the injured trio of James Loughnane, James Connaire and James Lyons.
“It was a very scrappy affair to say the least,” said McGovern.
“We struggled to find any flow all game. Again we went into the fourth quarter needing a good performance and we managed that down the stretch.”
Maigh Cuilinn face one more road trip before a Christmas break as they head south to Cork this coming weekend and a meeting against Neptune. The teams met previously in October in Galway when the Leesiders were comprehensive and deserving winners.
Maigh Cuilinn have shown recently however that they are a much tougher outfit than when the sides played back then, having learned somewhat to reshape the team in the absence of their key injured trio.
They will go into the away fixture in Neptune Stadium on the back of a home win and a good showing on the road which should raise their hopes. The continued outstanding play of Grant Olsson is another shining light. He scored 27 against DBS Eanna and if he can find that form in Cork this weekend then Maigh Cuilinn will give themselves a chance.
Maigh CUilinn play at home next on 30 December when they play UCD Marian in a rare Friday night match which tips off at 7pm in the University of Galway Sports Arena.
Maigh Cuilinn Scorers: Grant Olsson (27), Kyle Cunningham (15), Dylan Cunningham (7), Ayberk Taylan (5), Joseph Tummon (4), Mateo Liberatore (3), Dara Kenna (2), Rory O’Sullivan, Kevin Nugent.