Neptune basketball club: Roy Downey is confident his team can challenge

John Coughlan talks to one of Neptune's most experienced players as they face Ballincollig in a Cork derby as the Super League returns
Neptune basketball club: Roy Downey is confident his team can challenge

Roy Downey, Neptune tries to sneak past the outstretched arms of Ronan O'Sullivan and Dylan Corkery, Ballincollig, in 2018. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE eagerly-awaited Men’s Super League tip-off this weekend and for Neptune ace guard Roy Downey can’t wait to face Cork rivals Tradehouse Central Ballincollig on Saturday.

Downey was introduced in 2011 by their former coach Pat Price but he had to wait until Mark Scannell took over the reins before getting the opportunity to strut his skills on the big stage.

“When I began playing with Neptune we were always a top-four side as the league was a little different as they were four good sides and the rest making up the numbers but I think it's more competitive since then,” said Downey.

In the summer of 2015, Downey joined UCC Demons and helped them win the Super League and Champions Trophy but in 2017 he returned to his boyhood club.

“When I went back there was no backbiting from Demons folk and I think its similar to Kyle Hosford going back this season to Demons because that’s where it all began for him and naturally he wants to help his club get back in the Super League.

When Downey returned he played under Paul Kelleher for a couple of seasons before he was replaced by Lehmon Colbert who acted as player-coach.

“When Lehmon took over we got a great start and were flying up to Christmas but it all went wrong when we lost a cup semi-final against the eventual winners Templeogue where we missed 21 free throws in the second half.

"In the league, we went from a top-four side before Christmas to a bottom side in the New Year losing three overtime games and it really got tough for all of us.”

Downey is also known for his football skills having played with Delanys for many years but recently he called it a day on that front as he felt the body need recharging.

It was always coming from Delanys to Neptune but I am now 27 and I have some serious miles on the clock so I chose basketball as the number one and only sport that I want to play.”

The harsh reality of getting side-lined for 20 months from basketball has taught Downey never to complain again about having too much training or games!

“I needed a break but after three months I didn’t know what to do with my spare time so it will be a breath of fresh air to get on court against Ballincollig.”

 Neptune's Roy Downey drives past DCU Saints' Marcus Black, during their Men's Super League clash at Neptune Stadium. Picture: David Keane
Neptune's Roy Downey drives past DCU Saints' Marcus Black, during their Men's Super League clash at Neptune Stadium. Picture: David Keane

This season, Neptune have recruited a good American in Miles Washington and with Catalonian Nil Sabata now a resident in Ireland they will test the resolve of many teams. The Blackpool side have also signed another Catalonian guard in Aleix Pujades, who is a former teammate of Sabata.

The Neptune club were dealt a huge blow during the pandemic when 22-year-old Adam Drummond had a life-changing accident that has left him paralysed.

“We have had some tragedies in Neptune over the years like the unexpected deaths of Emmet Neville and Liam Chandler but Adam’s accident shook our club big time.

“To be fair, Neptune have been incredible to the Drummond family and after spending 13 weeks in Dublin he is now back in Cork for the last fortnight.”

During the lockdown, Roy worked hard with Drummond in the gym but now his life has been turned upside down at the tender age of 22.

“I actually went to see him in the CUH before he went to Dublin with his great friend Blake Murphy of Blue Demons and I must admit it was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had in my life. What really struck me was the power of his mindset and for me, I am hoping it will inspire me for the remainder of my life and basketball career.”

The Neptune player-coach this season is Colin O’Reilly.

“Everything he has done so far has been incredible and having played under him at Demons I actually think he has moved up another level.

“My experience of coaches like Pat Price and Paul Kelleher is that they would spend two and half hours in Neptune in sessions but Colin would fit his session into 70 minutes and you get a lot more in how he teaches the game.”

All will be revealed tomorrow at Ballincollig where Roy Downey will be hoping to help his team get off to a winning start.

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