SERBIAN Darko Bucan embarks on a new chapter in his basketball career as player-coach of Fr Mathew’s.
Bucan arrived in Ireland in 2013 to do a placement with a charity in Cork and after experiencing playing college basketball in America he was eager to join a club in Cork.
“I approached Mark Scannell who was then the coach of Neptune in the Men’s Super League but sadly I picked up a few injuries and that hampered my progress,” he explains.
The Serbian was grateful to Neptune but decided it was time to move on and linked up with Colin O’Reilly and UCC Demons, coming off their remarkable unbeaten season in the previous campaign.
“Demons were already stacked but I managed to be part of Champions Trophy and League titles with them and I will be forever grateful for that,” added Bucan.
Playing alongside Colin O’Reilly, Lehmon Colbert, Kyle Hosford, Carleton Cuff and O’Sullivan brothers Ciaran and Adrian, Bucan improved as a player. He was sad to see the famed northside outfit leave the Super League.
In 2018 the Serbian moved away from the Super League as he felt he wanted to have less travelling around the country.
“I remember at one stage with Demons that we had six consecutive games on the road with four games in Dublin and one each in Galway and Belfast so Fr Mathew’s in Division 1 would be shorter trips around Munster.
“Amazingly this season the long trips will include Sligo, Belfast and Donegal so I will now have to handle them accordingly!”
Last season Darko took over as coach in the run-in and impressed the committee of Fr Mathew’s so much they decided to offer him the position for the coming campaign.
“I am honoured and delighted to be doing the job as this season will see many players donning the Mathew’s jersey for the first time and in general there is a great group with a solid attitude in the squad.
“My priority will be to introduce a number of U20 players and hopefully they will adapt to the league quick as getting used to the physicality can be tough to handle.”
The new Mathew’s chief was saddened when their ace player for the last three years Michael McGinn decided to opt-out.
“Mick was a great player for us and I am sad he decided to step away as I feel he would have been suited to the new squad with his energy on the floor but he has other commitments that don’t fit into him playing with us and I would like to thank him for his contribution to the club.”
Mathew’s welcome back Jack O’Mahony from UCC Demons, while Owen Connolly and David Murray have joined from Neptune. On the professional side, they have recruited American Jarvis Pugh, a 6’ 6” forward hails from Texas and played with Santa Clara University in Division 1 Stateside.
“I am hoping Jarvis will be good for the team because having a decent American in this division is the difference in many cases.
“When the American is not pulling his weight or putting up the numbers it can affect the moral of your team and hopefully that will not be the case this season.”
Owen Connolly is now back at the club where he played his entire career and the experience gained at Super League is bound to be a huge plus for him in this grade.
So can Mathew’s make a realistic challenge for honours this season?
“I think so as we will be far better defensively and in the offence court we have players capable of putting up the numbers.
“All I will be expecting from the players is when on court leave everything behind them and from there everything else should fall into place as the camaraderie in the squad is excellent and our opening game tomorrow against Tolka Rovers in Dublin is sure to test our credentials.”