Maigh Cuilinn face a different test after securing opening day win

 Lovre Tvdric and RJ Kelly of Flexachem KCYMS cannot stop Moycullen’s Kyle Cunningham from scoring scores in the InsureMyVan.ie Men's Super League game at the University of Galway Sports Arena on Sunday. Moycullen ended their first home game of the season with an 83-79 point win over the visiting Kerry side. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Lovre Tvdric and RJ Kelly of Flexachem KCYMS cannot stop Moycullen’s Kyle Cunningham from scoring scores in the InsureMyVan.ie Men's Super League game at the University of Galway Sports Arena on Sunday. Moycullen ended their first home game of the season with an 83-79 point win over the visiting Kerry side. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Maigh Cuilinn, fresh from an impressive win in their home opener of the Basketball Ireland Men’s Superleague, travel to Cork this weekend (Saturday 5pm ) to take on Neptune - one of the most successful club in Irish basketball history.

It is recent history, however, that is more important for Maigh Cuilinn than the 11 league titles the Leesiders racked up during a glorious 20-year span between 1983 and 2003. Last season, Neptune easily accounted for Maigh Cuilinn in both fixtures, at home and away - the firepower of Neptune’s dazzling attacking options the key difference in both those games.

However, Maigh Cuilinn have upped their scoring prowess so far this season with some key additions and Josiah Laracey, Ivan Basic and Antonio Molina have certainly added to a generally positive start to the season.

Neptune, meanwhile, have enjoyed a less than the perfect start to their 2023/2024 campaign, losing their one and only match so far - a game against their Cork rivals Ballincollig 99-83. The loss came despite getting a combined 50 points from the Neptune import stars Shon Briggs (America ) and Max Cooper (UK ).

Briggs and Cooper are new to Neptune, but familiar to Irish basketball fans, having played last season with Belfast Star where they built a formidable partnership. They are both mobile players standing at 6'6" each and pose a genuine headache given their versatility. Combined with Irish international Jordan Blount, himself a mobile 6'7", Neptune have the ability to out gun opposition on the scoreboard.

In recent years, they have had their critics in terms of defensive effort and consistency, but whether Maigh Cuilinn can find the scorers away from home to truly test Neptune remains the question.

If James Connaire hits the form he found last week, that question will certainly be answered affirmatively. He was exceptional in delivering a personal career high 24 points, connecting on all five of his three point attempts.

Connaire’s exploits, ably assisted by an excellent team defensive effort by Maigh Cuilinn, saw the Tibesmen grab control of their Superleague home opener against Killorglin of Kerry last Sunday from the outset.

A rampaging opening-quarter performance had Maigh Cuilinn leading 28-17 after 10 minutes, and, although Killorglin did get back level twice in the game, they were never able to take a lead - Maigh Cuilinn deservedly holding out for an impressive 83-79 win in front of the home supporters.

Maigh Cuilinn scorers v Killorglin: James Connaire 24, Josiah Laracey 15, Antonio Molina 14, Ivan Basic 11, Grant Olsson 8, Aitor Perez 7, Kevin Nugent 2, Kyle Cunningham 2, Dylan Cunningham, Joe Tummon, Liam Moloney, Donagh McDonagh.

 

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