MAREE Basketball Club’s senior men’s side are heading for the big time after capturing the National One Division title for the second consecutive season – and the third time in four years – at the weekend.
The win means the club will make the mandatory step-up to the Superleague next season, joining fellow Galway club, Moycullen, amongst the elite of Irish basketball.
“It’s a big challenge for us, but there’s no point being in this game if you don’t want to challenge yourself. We have a great bunch of lads, and I want them to push themselves, to look forward to playing against the best teams in the country,” team coach, John Finn, told Tribune Sport.
“We are not improving, we are not learning anything, by winning Division 1 three times in four years. You don’t learn anything from winning a game by 50 points, like we did against Letterkenny in January. You learn by playing the top sides, the top players, and we have to want to do that,” said Finn.
Maree – under Finn and assistant coach, Mike Lynch – had clinched the Division 1 North Conference title with a couple of games to spare last month; and they secured the national title over the weekend after the top four play-offs in Calasanctius College, which the club hosted due to finishing as top seeds.
The key to Maree finishing as top seeds was a one-week period in the middle of February when they played to ‘big two’ from the South Conference in successive games, defeating Killorglin of Kerry 89-82 on the road on Saturday, February 11; before accounting for Neptune of Cork 109-98 in a thriller of a game in Calasanctius College the following Saturday.
They were too strong again for Killorglin in the semi-final on Saturday, leading 36-22 at half-time on their way to a 79-57 win, with Paulius Peldzius hitting 25 points, Eoin Rockall landing 16 points, and Padraig Burke chipping in with 13 points.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.