As tee-ups go for their most important game of the season thus far, this was about as ugly a knock-down as UCC Demons could have feared, writes Tony Leen
Ambassador UCC Glanmire’s Gráinne Dwyer works her way up the court during the Hula Hoops National Cup quarter -final against Pyrobel Killester in Clontarf. The Cork side came out on top 89-74, having been 28 points ahead at the break.
What should have been ideal preparation on their home court for Saturday’s National Cup semi-final against high-flying Templeogue turned into a 117-94 Mardyke mauling from a Superleague rival without a win in five.
Moycullen rebounded from their own slump to dominate their Cork hosts at both ends of the court and leave Demons with questions not only about next weekend, but the direction the club’s shop window team is going.
Credit the Galway side who got huge offensive performances from intelligent Philadelphia import Brandon McGuire (26 pts) and guard James Loughnane (21). If Demons had a Cup incentive to perform, Moycullen had the old-fashioned hurt of a derby lossto stoke them, succumbing 91-79 to Maree last week – their fifth straight loss.
“We were really up for this one,” said Moycullen’s assistant coach Ger Lyons, words one might have anticipated from the other bench, which produced only eight fit players for action in this Saturday upset.
It’s not in Demons player-coach Colin O’Reilly’s nature to sugar-coat the obvious, and there was neither sugar nor icing on his courtside reflections.
“That (performance) is one of the problems with the team. We don’t know which one is going to show up on the day. We haven’t enough bodies to train properly and when you don’t have consistency in training, you don’t get consistency in games.
“I still believe when we are on form, we are a top team, but the league table says we are a middle of the road outfit, so we are where we should we. We got what we deserved from the game.”
That they did. Assistant coach Lyons described ex Moravian College player McGuire as a really “good fit” for Moycullen, and his 11th point kept it tight in the first quarter at 34-32 Demons. By the half though, the visitors’ quick-moving offensive rotation had Demons in trouble, Moycullen leading 58-49.
With 2.49 left in the third, the lead was out to 16 (82-66) and it was evident that the appetite was on the side of the Galway men. Kyle Hosford made a three-point play, and kept grafting (21 pts), and Lehmonn Colbert was stinging Moycullen inside on occasions. But Demons had no answer to the fourth quarter tour de force of guard James Loughnane, whom his asst coach properly described as “unguardable”.
With 6.48 left in the game a half-hearted Demons rally got it back to 96-85, but Loughnane threes kept the foot on Demons’ throat. The notion that an ass-kicking like this might spark a Cup semi reaction against Templeogue next weekend got short shrift from O’Reilly.
“We are shy (players) every game, every training. It’s a different player every week. We are probably at a cycle, as a club, where players have put in some much effort up to now that now it’s a bit much and fellas have to get on with their lives.
“It’s probably a year too far, maybe even two years, for us. The lads are still plugging away and when they show up they are as committed as ever. It’s just trying to find ten bodies every session three times a week.
“A team in transition? Usually when you are in transition, you are looking to move upwards, but we look in transition the wrong way. It’s hard to point a finger at the players because they are the ones showing up, and giving the commitment, but it’s just that at this level to be a top team, you need it every time from ten to twelve guys and we just don’t have the bodies in the club.”
Templeogue (9-4 in the Superleague) will still be met with a team stung and hurting though. “I have no fear of us for next Saturday that we will put in the work,” O’Reilly rebounded.
“It’s just a question of whether we will have the bodies to deliver a performance and not tire out over the 40 minutes.”
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