Maigh Cuilinn Bemoan Ballincollig Blistering Start

Maigh Cuilinn 59 (26)

Ballincollig 82 (46)

A blistering 15 to nil start from visiting Basketball Ireland Superleague table toppers Ballincollig all but ended hopes of a Maigh Cuilinn upset victory before they began last Saturday in the University of Galway Sports Arena.

The normally stout Maigh Cuilinn defence appeared to have no answers early to the sparking form of Ballincollig trio of Jose Gozales, Pau Galera and John Dawson who combined for 23 points by themselves in the opening quarter, a period Maigh Cuilinn were ultimately to lose by 16 points to 35.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with that start,” lamented a frustrated Maigh Cuilinn head coach John Cunningham after the game.

“We competed well for the remainder of the game but it was always a huge mountain to climb to try and get the score back competitive after digging such a hole right from the jump.”

Indeed, Maigh Cuilinn did have some fine play in spells with Kyle Cunningham and Brian Gaffney in particular shooting the ball well to join the wonderfully consistent scoring of Grant Olsson.

What the Galway outfit never managed however was to put a sustained run together to get the game back to single digits and really put some doubt in the minds of the visitors from Cork.

After blowing the contest open in the early phases through Gonzales, Galera and Dawson, Ballincollig had the luxury of calling  on the veteran trio of Keelan Cairns plus brothers Adrian and Ciaran O’Sullivan to quell any Maigh Cuilinn momentum before it gathered pace.

The visitors hot hand fell cold in the second period, managing only 11 points, but they were cute enough in their gameplay to not allow Maigh Cuilinn get going, allowing only ten points the other way and so a mammoth 20 point halftime advantage was their cushion at the break.

Unfortunately for Maigh Cuilinn, the third and fourth period played out in an all too predictable fashion with a now restored solidity to the Maigh Cuilinn defence not capitalised on for a lack of offensive output and returns of 19 points and 14 points in the third and fourth quarter, while sufficient to match Ballincollig, were never going to be enough to overturn the gap on the scoreboard built up in those opening exchanges.

“This was always going to be a tough match-up for us and Ballincollig showed their class in the way they played. We can have no complaints with the result,” admitted Cunningham.

“That said, we actually had a lot more positives I think than that scoreline would suggest. Ballincollig definitely didn’t have it all their own way and we gave them a right test at times, but in fairness to them, they had most of the answers when really needed.”

Maigh Cuilinn will have to dust themselves off quickly as next week brings a truly winnable game against a St Vincent’s outfit from Dublin who will be favourites but have had a turbulent season of their own and are closer to the bottom of the table than the top with a 4 win and 10 loss record.

“It’s a big game no doubt about it,” said Cunningham.

“It is the last one we have this season in the Kingfisher [University of Galway Sports Arena] and as we probably need two more wins to give us a chance at avoiding the relegation playoff then this is one we can’t afford to let pass by us without giving it a real rattle.”

The game is an unusual Sunday fixture with tip off at 3pm.

Maigh Cuilinn Scorers: Grant Olsson 17, Kyle Cunningham 13, Brian Gaffney 11, Ayberk Taylan 9, Mateo LIveratore 7, Dara Kenna 2, James Connaire, Joseph Tummon, Rory O’Sullivan, Dylan Cunningham, Kevin Nugent, Donagh McDonagh

Categories: Men's Superleague

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