AS a young lad in the North Mon, little did Darren Geaney think he would take up the sport of basketball, as soccer was mostly in his DNA. but he joined his schoolmates and gave it a shot.
“When Jimmy Hannigan and John McHale decided to try basketball I decided to give it a go and it was one of the greatest decisions I made as I met some incredible people in the sport,” said Geaney.
Eventually moving up to play at the top tier, winning the National Cup in 1996 was a memorable moment for Geaney.
“When you have grown up with guys and you win such a prestigious championship it’s only natural that the buzz is special and by God did we celebrate it.”
In the 1997/98 season, North Mon withdrew from the National League and Geaney decided to strut his skills with Neptune.
“In the 1999/2000 season I was part of the Neptune side that won the Super League and that was another great achievement, led by Stephen McCarthy under coach Gerry Fitzpatrick.”
Amazingly, Geaney (48) went on to play until he was 43, in the Men’s Division 1 National League with Fr Mathew’s before finishing his career at local level with Cork Celts who he helped land the Division 1 title.
Geaney took up coaching with Neptune at underage level and in 2019 he filled the assistant coach role to Lehmon Colbert and has remained in this position with player-coach Colin O’Reilly.
“Yeah, I probably have more of an input with Colin, as he allows my fellow assistant Craig Drummond and I to have our say even when he is off court.”
The latest league win for Neptune came against Bright DCU Saints after a second-half performance that brought huge praise from Geaney.
“The first half was a lethargic display, but I thought some of the basketball we produced in the third quarter was outstanding as the players began playing the way they were supposed to from tip-off.”
Geaney praised the role of O’Reilly, saying that his experience and knowledge of the league has improved the team.
“Before every game, each player and the assistants know exactly what they have to do and the players have bought into his professionalism no end.”
Catalonian Nil Sabata is having a great season and Geaney is delighted with his form and attitude.
Nil is a great team player and his determination to win is unreal.
"He is back in Spain for Christmas, but I am sure he will come back refreshed for our game against Moycullen on Monday. Although a little unorthodox on the court, his positivity is unreal and it certainly rubs off on the rest of the team.”
Neptune have another Spanish ace in Alex Tarradellas and after getting injured pre-season he has yet to play, but Neptune received news that he will return before their cup semi-final against NUIG Maree.
“Alex is a solid player who gives us so much; he is excellent on the ball and to be honest if he can come back to where he was before his ankle injury we will have a serious squad.”
Neptune have two Americans in Miles Washington and Richaud Gettens and both offer different contributions.
“Miles is a serious defender and a good shooter; Richaud brings pace to the team and both are talented.
“Our Irish players are all playing very well and there is great camaraderie in the squad.”
Having seen the majority of teams in the league, Geaney believes Neptune are capable of competing with the best, but he had an interesting opinion on their fellow championship contenders.
“Ballincollig are probably the strongest team in the league as they are brushing away all before them and Eanna are also a very good side.”
The Christmas period will be busy for Neptune as they keep themselves in shape.
“We cannot afford to be lax as we have a game on Monday against Moycullen in Galway and we then have the cup semi-final the following Saturday.
“Colin is very much keeping the team in shape and focused, but hopefully the lads will still be able to enjoy their Christmas.”
A busy time indeed for Neptune, and for Geaney it’s all about enjoyment in helping his side get ready for a huge fortnight.
“The cup is the glory competition, but our only focus right now is Moycullen and after that the cup semi-final will be in our range.”