Men’s Super League 2023/2024 – Round 11

EnergyWise Ireland Neptune 65

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 79

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors extended their winning run to six games in a row, and for the second time this season, lowered the colours of EnergyWise Ireland Neptune with an impressive 79-65 win in front of a packed Tralee Sports Complex on Saturday night. Coming just a week before their National Cup semi-final meeting with Ballincollig, the win was all the more significant given the Tralee side took the court without the services of both Jarvis Doles and captain Eoin Quigley who were both carrying injuries. Virgin Media MVP Ryan Leonard was immense throughout, landing a game high 31 points and Kieran Donaghy rolled back the years to produce his best performance for Warriors since his outstanding shift against UCD Marian that helped secure their League title win in 2019.

The Warriors made their intentions clear from the off and raced into an early 8-3 lead with Rap Buivydas, Ryan Leonard and Daniel Jokubaitis all opening their accounts. Neptune’s response came in the form of a major score from Cian Heaphy and when Roy Downey followed his lead the sides were level at 8-8. However the Warriors moved up a gear beginning with Caleb Jordan’s first of the night and a cracking three each from Kieran Donaghy and Ryan Leonard’s first of his six major scores forcing Neptune Coach Paul Kelliher to call a timeout. Leonard repeated the dose in the Warriors very next play and when Donaghy was on the mark again the hosts led 22-11 at the end of the first.

The Warriors continued to dictate the play early in the second with Steven Bowler, Jokubaitis and Leonard combining to maintain their double score lead. Neptune were in need of some sort of response and got it when Jordan Blount added his name to the scoresheet, Andrew Gardner fired down scores from either side of the arc and Adam Heaphy struck from distance to cut the advantage back to 30-24. Caleb Jordan helped himself to scores from inside and out to keep the pressure on but Neptune finished the quarter strongly with baskets from Gardner, Derek Murphy and a double from Blount cutting the gap to a single score. However Rap Buivydas was to have the last say in the half with a tough effort from inside keeping Warriors 37-33 ahead at the long break.

The Warriors stepped up the pace again early in the third with Donaghy dominant under his board and at the other end scores from Buivydas, Jordan and Leonard from inside and the free throw line pushed the lead out to 47-37. Neptune yet again needed a response and when Blount planted his feet to fire down a three and Sabata and Cian Heaphy followed up with a score apiece the gap was down to 47-44. Blount was again on the mark from inside and outside but the game was blown apart when the outstanding Ryan Leonard hit a stunning hat trick of threes to give the Warriors a 56-49 going into the final quarter.

Jordan Blount was on the mark early in the fourth to narrow the gap but the Warriors response was to restore and build on the lead when Buivydas and Leonard hit from inside and outside to leave nine between the sides. Scores from Sabata, Gardner and Derek Murphy kept the Cork side in touch but every basket was countered by the hosts and Buivydas and Leonard again combined to keep the lead intact. Caleb Jordan pulled up to fire in again before Andrew Gardner’s fifth foul allowed Donaghy to add from the line and when Buivydas did likewise the Warriors were comfortable at 75-61 up with minutes on the clock. Cian Heaphy added a lay-up after Jordan Blount was on the mark again before his final act of the game was to give up his fifth foul and to sit out the final minute. Neptune’s foul trouble was punished late on with Donaghy, Buivydas and Eddie Sheehy taking advantage from the line to seal the 79-63 win in the end.

Warriors Coach John Dowling says the strength in depth of the squad was a key factor in securing the win.
He says the mantra of the team of the next man stepping up has served them well in coping with their injury worries throughout the season and particularly last night.
Neptune Coach Paul Kelliher says he is still looking for consistency from his side since taking over.
He says he can now start to think about the huge local derby showdown with UCC Demons in the Cup semi-final next weekend.
Virgin Media MVP Ryan Leonard says the Warriors had to step up without the services of Jarvis Doles and Eoin Quigley.


Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Ryan Leonard 31, Rap Buivydas 21, Caleb Jordan 11

EnergyWise Ireland Neptune: Jordan Blount 18, Derek Murphy 14, Andrew Gardner 11

The focus now immediately switches to the National Cup as the Warriors look to get back to Tallaght to contest another final with Irish Guide Dogs Ballincollig@MTU standing in their way. The sides lock horns in Neptune Stadium in what promises to be a cracking game between the Super League champions from last season up against the double winning side from the season before. Action gets underway at 8.00pm next Saturday night just 24 hours after the other semi-final with EnergyWise Ireland Neptune and UCC Demons is decided to see who will provide the opposition for either the Warriors or Ballincollig in the National Cup showpiece event over the weekend of the 20th to 22nd of January.

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