LOOKING back on the last decade of top male players in Cork basketball, the dominance of UCC Demons has earned them the most places in the final 10 and, in no certain order, after looking at various careers, this was the standout squad I selected.
Niall O’Reilly was awesome when he transferred to Demons in 2002 and was major in helping the Sunday’s Well outfit to dominate Irish basketball.
O’Reilly mixed it with the best Irish players and also had battles at the post with American players.
O’Reilly was strong on the boards and a superb outside shooter, who will always be remembered as a legend within the Blue Demons club.
My selection of Carleton Cuff will probably surprise a few pundits, but his ability to defend and rebound was key for UCC Demons in many big games.
When Demons withdrew from the league, this season, he decided to play Division One basketball with Scott’s Lakers Killarney, but he will possibly look back on his career as someone who underachieved for the talent he possessed.
Shane Coughlan is one of the most talented players yet produced by Demons and is right up there with the elite players who have graced basketball in this country.
When it came to playing on the big stage, there was no better, and, in 2014/15, when the team went unbeaten, who could forget Coughlan’s magnificent buzzer-beater three-pointer against UCD Marian, which ensured his team went into the history books.
When Coughlan retired from Super League, in 2015, after touring China with an Ireland select team, many felt he departed too early, but he did leave a memorable legacy.
Ger Noonan is still donning the Neptune colours, after joining the Super League ranks in 2001/2 season.
Noonan also had a spell with Gleneagle Lakers, in Killarney, and his skills are still very much respected within the basketball fraternity.
Colin O’Reilly was a superb player, who later went into a player-coach role and led UCC Demons to their incredible record in the 2014/15 season when they became the first club to complete the Grand Slam undefeated.
When Ciaran O’Sullivan joined UCC Demons, in 2011, he went on to embark on a magnificent successful career. O’Sullivan was an outstanding capture for Demons and gave eight loyal years that made him one of the best shooters in the league, before returning to Ballincollig, in 2018.
Another O’Sullivan, Adrian, brother of Ciaran, was an outstanding athlete, and his speed, coupled with his movement around the court, make him a deserved selection in this squad. Adrian, after playing professional basketball at Reading, is presently strutting his skills in the German third division.
Niall Murphy, of UCC Demons, retired from the sport in 2016, after failing to recuperate from two cruciate operations.
Murphy was a superb athlete and produced some stunning displays for his club and his having to retire at the age of 27 was a sad occasion.
Kyle Hosford played with Demons his entire career up to them, disbanding in the summer of this year, as he moved to rivals, Neptune, to continue his career of playing at the top level of Irish basketball.
Hosford has many qualities and is a current Irish senior international.
Michael McGinn spent his entire career with Neptune and, in that time, helped them to a cup success in 2013, when he was awarded MVP in the National Cup final, after their shock win over UL Limerick.
McGinn is presently playing in the Men’s Division One, with Scott’s Hotel Lakers Killarney.
In a period of many highlights, let’s not forget players like Carleton Cuff, Gary Walsh, Michael Plichta, Roy Downey, Ronan O’Sullivan, and Ian McLoughlin, who all produced notable performances in this decade.
On titles alone, the coach of the decade must surely go to Colin O’Reilly.
CORK MEN'S SUPER LEAGUE BASKETBALL: Niall O’Reilly (UCC Blue Demons); Shane Coughlan (UCC Blue Demons); Kyle Hosford (UCC Blue Demons/Neptune); Ciarán O’Sullivan (UCC Blue Demons/Ballincollig); Ger Noonan (Neptune); Colin O’Reilly (UCC Blue Demons/Killorglin); Michael McGinn (Neptune/St Paul’s Killarney); Niall Murphy (UCC Blue Demons); Carleton Cuff (UCC Blue Demons/Scott’s Lakers Killarney); Adrian O’Sullivan (UCC Blue Demons).