WHEN UCC Demons withdrew from the Men’s Super League in 2019 there was an air of gloom in Cork and Irish basketball circles.
Many pundits were pondering if a club with the history and success of Demons can go out of business it could well happen to other clubs in this country.
The problem at the time was lack of numbers as their last player-coach Colin O’Reilly witnessed players opting out and in the end the club were left with little choice but to step down and rebuild again.
Luckily, coach Danny O’Mahony has assembled a decent crop of players at U20 level and the rest is history as they returned this season to play in the Men’s Division One National League.
Unbeaten in the league campaign the Demons faithful are beginning to wonder can they make it back to play in the top flight again and tomorrow, Saturday, they will make their way to the Parochial Hall Gurranabraher for a President’s Cup semi-final against Sligo All-Stars.
The westerners under coach Glen Monaghan have been the form team in the northern conference and are probably slight favourites going into this semi-final.
Demons chief Danny O’Mahony knows his team will have to be at their very best to get over this talented Sligo outfit.
“I always had an incline that we would play them in the cup ever before the draw was made so you could say that I had my eye on them over many months,” said Danny O’Mahony.
Sligo were drawn against Malahide in the opening round of the cup and O’Mahony watched it with interest.
“I also took in their game against Tolka so you could say that I have probably watched them more than most as they stream all their home games but I do feel they have some serious weapons in their side,” added O’Mahony.
The scoring power in the Sligo team is a problem for most teams to restrict as O’Mahony is planning a way to nullify various threats.
“They have three excellent professionals who are all scoring pretty high all season as there are times their American Keith Jordan (jnr) is a tough player to shut down because if you close that threat their English player Zack Powell is an excellent shooter.”
Sligo have various scoring threats that will need to be stopped according to O’Mahony.
“In a nutshell Sligo have a good structured team and we will need to be at out very best to beat them.”
The one plus for Demons is they have one of the best point guards in the country in their squad as the performance of Kyle Hosford could well determine whether or not they win this game.
Hosford does play on the edge at times and teams have been known to target him on court mostly with thrash talk to get inside his head.
To be fair Hosford plays for his club with his heart on his sleeve and hopefully he will be allowed show his skills in this crucial game.
Demons also have a quality Spanish star in Tala Thiam Fam who athleticism is a dream to watch.
Fam at times doesn’t get quality ball at low post as his teammates can struggle to find him in good positions.
At the start of the season Demons signed American Andre Kennedy but despite going on an unbeaten four game stretch with him coach O’Mahony decided to dispense of his services.
Kennedy couldn’t play with his back to the basket and the Demons chief decided to replace him with Danish star Toby Christensen.
Christensen looks a far better fit and does finish well at the post and his defensive qualities have impressed his teammates.
David Lehane is a quality shooter and he could have a key role to play in this game as will point guards Ryan Murphy and Jack O’Leary.
Playing in Gurranabraher will not hinder Demons but at times when the physicality stakes rise at this level the Sunday’s Well outfit will need to be disciplined.
A game that could well go down to the wire but it certainly will not be for the faint hearted at the Hall.