IT will be a huge day tomorrow for UCC Demons coach Danny O’Mahony when he leads his team into the President's Cup final against Drogheda Wolves.
What a season it has been for UCC Demons as they remain unbeaten in the Men’s Division 1 league but cup final weekend is special for all involved in the Blue Demons club. Especially with their U20s first up on Friday night in their decider.
After spending a number of years in Dublin, Danny married his sweetheart Jodie in 2018 and returned to Cork. A baby girl named Maisie arrived a year later but O’Mahony was determined to give something back to his beloved club.
“Demons had to go out of the league in 2019 but on the plus side they was a decent group of players at U18 and U20 level and after meeting with the club committee they felt it would be a good move for me to take the role as U20 coach,” said O’Mahony.
From taking the job O’Mahony was determined to try and produce a side that would be ready to take the club back into the top tier of Irish basketball.
“I mixed the U18 and U20 teams and with our relationship with the Mardyke Arena the players were able to get strength and conditioning and that was a huge bonus for us."
In the first season, Demons went through Cork unbeaten and reached the National League semi-final but with Covid blitzing the country that championship was never finished. During the summer of 2021, O’Mahony began thinking of bringing the club back to the National League and with the backing of the club committee that was endorsed.
“We looked at the players available and when Kyle Hosford indicated he was willing to come back and having Carleton Cuff with the young group of players it was decided that we give it a go.
“I think what impressed most was the committee's attitude to bringing our own players through and we have a nice bit of talent involved with the squad that have through our club programme.”
Sadly Carleton Cuff suffered a ruptured tendon in a preseason game and was ruled out for the season. His son Daryl will feature for the club's U20 squad though, in Friday's final against Marian.
“Carleton is a loss to us and his defensive skills alone would help our team big time but his heart is still very much with the squad.”
No matter what level you are playing basketball in this country playing in a cup final is always the pinnacle of their careers and coach O’Mahony believes the buzz is back in the club big time.
At the start of the season, Demons knew they needed to recruit a professional and coach O’Mahony duly signed Andre Kennedy.
“Andre was a good professional and had played at a good level and I am still puzzled with the player I recruited looking at his college career to the one that actually arrived in Cork.
“We didn’t lose a game with him and he was a lovely guy but I needed a bigger presence and that’s the reason I went with our latest signing Tobias Christensen who was named Player of the Month for December.”
Tomorrow’s final against Drogheda is sure to attract a big Demons support to the capital but O’Mahony has warned his players not to get caught up in the occasion.
“The bottom line is that Drogheda Wolves are involved with DIT and have an American and two Portuguese guys in their squad and will be no pushovers as their recent form suggests they will pose us problems.”
On a final note, his family ties with the club mean a lot to him.
“I visited my grandmother's grave before we played in the semi-final asking her to look after us and to be honest she didn’t let me down.
“Winning the cup final would mean so much to all our family but the main goal for me is that my players enjoy the occasion because at the end of the day it’s a game of ball and not life or death.”