Warriors second best in the West

InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Super League 2022/2023 – Round 3

University of Galway Maree 90

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 64

For the second season in a row Garvey’s Tralee Warriors came away from the Kingfisher Arena in Galway on the wrong side of the score line as University of Galway Maree produced a performance of real quality to seal a 90-64 win on Saturday night. The defending champions never got into stride and were chasing the game from a long way out against the impressive Galway outfit. Maree have now three wins from three, and join the Warriors’ next opponents Energywise Ireland Neptune on top of the South Conference.

The Warriors were looking to put the dramatic final quarter reverse against Belfast last weekend behind them but Maree were in no mood to offer the Tralee side any reprieve. The hosts simply bolted out of the traps with Eoin Rockall in range from inside and out with playmaker Jarrett Haines also finding the mark. Former Maree star Dre Jackson got the Warriors on the board before Daniel Jokubaitis opened up for a three to bridge the gap.

However when Rockall hit his second three of the night, Rodrigo Gomez, Joe Junior Mvuezolo and Haines combined to push the hosts score out to 21. The Warriors resistance came in the form of a couple of scores from Jackson and Matija Jokic but at quarter time Maree looked confident and comfortable at 21-11 up.

Kieran Donaghy and Jackson combined well early in the second to cut the advantage to 5 but the Warriors were struggling to get open looks and when they did, they weren’t landing. At the other end of the court it was a different story with scores from Gomez, Haines and a three from Mvuezolo quickly built on the double digit lead. Jokubaitis and Quigley stepped to the board to pull the lead back to single figures but Gomez was tormenting the Warriors rear-guard and after he landed from inside and out, Mvuezolo, Haines and Paul Freeman lined up to fire Maree 40-24 ahead. With the Galway side in foul trouble the Warriors hit 4 from 6 from the line but Rockall and Freeman each landed a regulation score to see their side 44-29 to the good at the half time break.

The interval team talk seemed to invigorate the Warriors early in the third with Jokic, Quigley with two and another three from Jokubaitis firing their side back into the game. Zvonimir Cutuk found the target with a three for Maree but when Jokubaitis and Jackson added it forced Maree coach Charlie Crowley to call a timeout as the gap was down to just 7 with 4.05’’ on the clock. However the momentum swung straight back to the hosts when the outstanding Mvuezolo hit a quick hat trick of scores to add to another from inside from Freeman and in an instant the Galway side had doubled their lead to 58-44. Jokubaitis hit his third three of the night but Mvuezolo replied in kind after Zach Light opened his account and Maree took a game winning lead of 64-48 into the final quarter.

The Warriors showed some late resilience to cut the Maree advantage back to single figures again in the fourth with Jokubaitis and Jackson keeping their side in the game. However the Galway side knew they had the League champions in deep trouble and when Haines, Rockall and Cathal Finn all hit almost identical threes the die was cast for the Warriors. With the game now gone from his grasp John Dowling emptied the bench and James Fernane, Steven Bowler, Jack Tobin and Aivaras Ousis all saw out the final quarter. A three from Eoin Quigley was the Warriors only respite late on as Maree scored as they pleased with Finn, Rockall, Gomez and Mvuezolo helping themselves to scores. James Fernane added his name to the scoresheet in the last minute but Cathal Finn delivered the final blow with a three close to the buzzer to seal a fully deserved 90-64 win in the end.

Top scorers: Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Daniel Jokubaitis 18, Dre Jackson 17, Eoin Quigley 11

University of Galway Maree: Joe Junior Mvuezolo 22, Rodrigo Gomez 20, Jarret Haines 13

It is back to the drawing board this week for the Warriors as they prepare for another tough road trip in defence of their title. This time they will face joint South Conference leaders Energywise Ireland Neptune in Neptune Stadium, a team desperate to take Warriors to task after losing both the Cup and League to them in the respective finals last season.

Tip off next Saturday evening in Neptune Stadium is 6.30pm.

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