Warriors overpower Maree to set up Super showdown
Men's Superleague - Tralee Warriors 88 Maree 70
Garvey's Tralee Warriors extended their winning streak to four games in a row and in doing so consolidated their position in second place on the Super League table with an 88-70 win over Maree at the Tralee Sports Complex on Saturday night.
The Tralee side overcame a typically spirited performance from the Galway side before asserting their authority in the third and fourth quarters to pull away in the end. The victory leaves the Warriors poised for the visit of League leaders Templeogue in what promises to be an epic battle as both sides square up for a potential Super League decider at the Tralee Sports Complex next Saturday night.
The Warriors opened proceedings in fine style with Eoin Quigley landing a three pointer. Kendall Williams immediately followed suit after Sean Sellers got Maree on the board with a score from close range. Niels Bunschoten then landed from outside the arc and added two from the line before Williams hit his second three to leave the sides level at 9 points each midway through the quarter. Maree's John Burke opened his account before Keith Jumper got to the board for a score and quickly followed up with two from the line. Paul Dick eluded the Maree cover to score and when Jumper dunked spectacularly the Warriors led by 6. However scores from Burke and Bunschoten cut the Warriors lead to 19-18 at the break.
John Burke fired Maree into the lead with a fine three early in the second before young Warriors star Rap Buivydas stepped into position to reply with three of his own much to the delight of the Warriors faithful. Burke and Williams exchanged scores before Maree hit the hosts for 9 unanswered points through Burke and Sellers to see the visitors move 6 ahead. Paul Dick steadied the Warriors ship by slaloming his way to the Maree board and then swapping threes with Sellers. When Dick and Quigley combined to hit the visitors with a 9 point blitz the Warriors wrestled back the lead. Bunschoten leveled the game at 40-40 before scores from Quigley and Williams and Sellers and Eoghan Rockall saw the sides go to the long break level again at 44-44.
Maree had the better of the opening exchanges in the third with Rockall, Sellers, Burke and Bunschoten all on the mark but with Williams, Paul Dick and Donaghy continuing to get to the visitors board the sides were still level at 52-52 half way through the quarter. The Warriors offensive effort then moved up a gear and in a breathless couple of minutes they hit the Maree rearguard for 10 unanswered points to lead by 8. At the other end Donaghy was simply peerless under the Warriors board and used all his skill and experience to repel the Maree offence time and time again. Darren O'Sullivan was deployed to curb the threat of Sellers and did so clinically. Paul Dick and Quigley combined to increase the Warriors advantage to 12 but in the final act of the quarter Rockall fired in a stunning three to cut the gap to 66-57 as the sides turned for home.
Quigley continued his rich vein of form by firing in his third three of the night to restore the host's 12-point lead at the start of the final quarter. Rockall and Sellers replied with scores to keep the visitors just about in touch but when Quigley, Paul Dick and Donaghy all found the Maree basket the Warriors moved effortlessly into a 16 point lead. The dynamic Rockall was on the mark from inside and out but as the Galway side tired late on the outstanding Paul Dick along with Quigley and Williams all laid up unopposed. Warriors coach Pat Price took the opportunity to run the bench and introduce Gary Murphy, Leeroy Odiahi and Daire Kennelly in the last few minutes. In the final act of the contest Kennelly heralded his arrival on the scene with a score to cap the 88-70 win for the Warriors.
"We're at the business end of the season with half a chance and we're just delighted to be here," said Kieran Donaghy, as his side kept their dreams of a Super League title alive. "We're playing together as a team and we're taking it one game at a time now," he continued. "It's hard as we have a lot of tough games in the run in to the finish, but we're just delighted to be here."