Neptune v Tralee Warriors: Roy Downey ready for cup cracker

Northside basketball powerhouse gunning for a first National Cup since 2013 when they face Kieran Donaghy's Tralee
Neptune v Tralee Warriors: Roy Downey ready for cup cracker

C & S Neptune's Roy Downey lays up a basket against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

C&S NEPTUNE will be hoping to end a nine-year drought when they face Garvey's Tralee Warriors in the Pat Duffy Men’s National Cup final on Saturday, 6pm, in the National Basketball Arena.

The Neptune faithful will have to cast their minds back to 2013 when they defeated UL Limerick in this championship and captain Roy Downey believes his side have the ammunition to go match the intensity of the Kerry side.

“We have a good squad of players and have a player-coach in Colin O’Reilly that knows how to win silverware and yes we are going into this final with plenty of confidence."

Downey, now 27, joined the club as a youngster. Bar playing with rivals UCC Demons for a couple of seasons when Neptune withdrew from the Super League, he has given the Blackpool club incredible service.

“When Pat Price coached in 2009 he called me up as they were short of numbers and that was a bit of a shock for me as I was only just 17 but it was a great experience despite losing the league final to Killester.” 

He worked with some terrific coaches though he actually missed out on the club's last cup success in 2013 when Mark Scannell was at the helm.

“I actually went to England that year and missed winning a cup medal and then when I returned we lost another cup semi-final to Dublin Inter and that was a disappointment for all of us at Neptune.” 

He played under Ger Noonan, Paul Kelleher and Lehmon Colbert, and now Colin O'Reilly.

“I enjoyed playing with all the different coaches but I feel this season Colin has brought that bit more professionalism to our side and I do feel he has improved things big time.” 

Colin O'Reilly and Tralee Warriors' Kieran Donaghy square-off, when the current Neptune player-coach was with Demons. Picture: David Keane.
Colin O'Reilly and Tralee Warriors' Kieran Donaghy square-off, when the current Neptune player-coach was with Demons. Picture: David Keane.

The Neptune captain is respected by his teammates as he reflected on the cup campaign to date.

“We went to play Killester in the league and the following game was against the same opposition in the cup quarter-final a fortnight later and that was a good test of our character as we won both games,” added Downey.

The cup semi-final against NUIG Maree was always going to be a potential banana skin but he praised his teammates in the manner they approached the game.

“We trained hard and were very focused as playing a semi-final can bring added pressures playing on your home court but we adjusted well and in the end despite taking our foot off the pedal in the last quarter we were comfortable winners.” 

DEPTH

Neptune have certainly added serious artillery in this campaign with two Americans and two Catalonian players in their squad.

“We have Miles Washington who is a tremendous defender and shot-blocker and in recent times he has been knocking down shots for fun.

“Our second American Richaud Gittens brings a different asset to the team as he is lightning quick and for a player who is only 6' 2" he is not afraid to mix it.” 

When Nil Sabata arrived to play in 2019 he was an instant hit with the Neptune players and now residing in Cork life has never been as good for him. He is very much an unorthodox player but he is a trojan on the boards and in defence.

The one concern for Sabata is that if the match referees are fussy and he gets into a physical battle with the Warriors 6' 8" post player Nikola Rosa he could pick up early fouls.

The second Neptune Catalonian player is Aleix Tarradellas, whose first competitive game came against NUIG Maree in the semi-final. Although he showed a bit of rustiness he looks a good fit for this Neptune team.

Nil and Aleix are great competitors and the spirit they bring to the team is amazing and I think both will have a huge part to play in this final as they are born winners.” 

This year Neptune’s Irish players have excelled and Downey played tribute to all his teammates.

“We are all a year older and you can see the maturity in Cian Heaphy and the Hannigan twins James and Scott all playing great ball.

“Gary Walsh is another player who brings vast experience and that will be needed in this final.” 

Tralee Warriors are sure to have the backing of a noisy group of fans in Tallaght but Roy Downey believes his team will not be fazed by the razzmatazz.

“We are going there to win and nothing less will suffice."

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