Superleague survival at stake for Maigh Cuilinn

The most important game of the Basketball Ireland Superleague season for Maigh Cuilinn beckons this Saturday, March 2. They will head south to play Killorglin, who also face a relegation threat.

The somewhat arbitrary division of teams into a Northern and Southern Conference has left Maigh Cuilinn (Southern Conference ) facing the possibility of being relegated. The bottom team from each conference is relegated each season, and Maigh Cuilinn may go down despite finishing several places above teams in the Northern Conference who would remain in the Superleague next season.

For the moment however, destiny remains in Maigh Cuilinn's hands. They face fellow Southern Conference relegation battlers Killorglin, who sit just one game ahead of them.

At present, Maigh Cuilinn are tied bottom of the conference with National Cup champions UCC Demons; both teams on five wins. Just above these are Neptune and Killorglin, which both have six wins. The drama of relegation risk is heightened by the fact that one of these four will not only avoid relegation, but make the playoffs as the top four of the seven-team conference advance.

Kilorglin and Maigh Cuilinn met once already this season. The Connemara club getting the better of Killorglin on that occasion when Irish international James Connaire scored 24 points for Maigh Cuilinn to win 83 to 79.

Whether Maigh Cuilinn can reproduce that form in what is an electric atmosphere in the heart of Killorglin remains to be seen.

Key for Maigh Cuilinn will be individual defensive responsibility as Killorglin have put together a formidable starting five of fully professional players. The American pair of Kendall Jacks and Terry Winn, the British duo of Scott Angus and Lucas McGregor, and the versatile Croatian scorer Lovre Tvrdic all present formidable challenges.

Killorglin can be limited in their player rotations, however. This means that Maigh Cuilinn, which boasts a strong bench, will surely be hoping to keep the tempo of the game up, play pressure defence and hope that they can wear down Killorglin over the course of four quarters.

It is a task easier said than done when Killorglin play in front of a superbly vocal home support. Thus the venue is not one that Maigh Cuilinn have tasted success at in recent years.

This season, a win might prove the difference between a fourteenth year at Superleague level, or a drop to the National League below. After Saturday’s clash in Kerry, Maigh Cuilinn will have just two more chances to record wins when they face Templeogue in Dublin on March 9 and then a final home game on March 16 in the University of Galway.

From the three remaining games on the calendar, Maigh Cuilinn will likely need two wins to achieve safety. Fingers will be crossed on Corrib side that they get one on the road this Saturday.


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