InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Super League 2022/2023 – Round 11
UCC Demons 92
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 86
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors last game of 2022 ended in disappointment with a 92-86 defeat at the hands of UCC Demons at the Mardyke Arena in Cork on Friday night. The loss further compounds the playoff hopes of the defending champions who end the year with just four wins and leaving them in danger of not making the playoffs in March. They sit two wins behind the team in fourth place on the ladder, Energywise Ireland Neptune, after the Cork side also suffered defeat at home to University of Galway Maree on Friday night.
The Warriors v Demons game was a cracking contest that rocked and rolled with the teams level or barely separated throughout. The Warriors opened the first quarter in style with Matija Jokic and an inspired Kieran Donaghy firing them into an early lead. Tala Fam Thiam had Demons back on terms with a quick fire four scores and Kingsley Nwagboso added to push the hosts ahead. Donaghy continued to torment Demons and added another two scores from inside. When Donaghy landed a three and Dre Jackson followed his lead it looked like giving the Warriors a narrow quarter time lead but Michael Randolph Jnr. opened his account with a double to edge the hosts 22-20 ahead at quarter time.
Randolph Jnr. continued his scoring run early in the second but Jackson replied in kind with a brilliant display of offence, scoring at will from inside and out. Matija Jokic was also causing havoc in the Demons defence and chipped in a hat trick of scores to ease the Warriors back ahead. Randolph Jnr., Nwagboso and Kyle Hosford combined for Demons to keep the Warriors lead in check but Jokic was again on the mark and Jackson rounded out an excellent quarter with another major and two trademark drives to see the Warriors lead 47-44 at the long break.
The sides went score for score in a frantic third quarter with Jackson and Jokic continuing to find the basket from either side of the arc for the visitors while Thiam, Nwagboso and Randolph kept the score ticking over for Demons. Dave Lehane arced in a big three for the hosts but when Aivaras Ousis floated in his first score of the game, Jackson was in range again and Donaghy added another, the Warriors were still the team to beat at 70-66 up going in to the final quarter.
Dre Jackson pushed the Warriors further ahead early in the fourth with two brilliant three pointers before Hosford also hit the mark from outside for Demons. However the Warriors flow of scores began to dry up just as Randolph Jnr. began to find his rhythm and four scores in a row turned the contest around to see the hosts lead by 2 with as many minutes on the clock. A belter of a three from Scott Hannigan proved to be a decisive score as the Warriors ran into foul trouble. A tough foul call against the Tralee side extinguished any hope of a dramatic finale and late scores from Nwagboso, Lehane and Hannigan rounded out the 92-86 win for UCC Demons in the end.
UCC Demons: Michael Randolph Jnr. 33, Tala Fam Thiam 19, Kingsley Nwagboso 15
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Dre Jackson 28, Matija Jokic 21, Kieran Donaghy 14
Though brave and resilient in defeat the Warriors now face the reality of mobilising again for a demanding schedule of fixtures in the New Year with five home games against Éanna, EJ Sligo All Stars, Moycullen, Killester and Neptune and three away trips to Ballincollig, Killorglin and UCD Marian and little or no room for any defeats.
Next up for the Warriors is the first of the home games and a cross conference tie with DBS Éanna. Action takes place in the Tralee Sports Complex on Saturday 14th January with tip off at 7.30pm.