Neptune ace Roy Downey inspires Ireland to victory over Cyprus after overtime

Downey proves he belongs at the top table of Irish basketball.  His performance questions why he was only making his second appearance for his country today - he should have a lot more caps
Neptune ace Roy Downey inspires Ireland to victory over Cyprus after overtime

Roy Downey of Ireland in action against Filippos Vasileios Tigkas of Cyprus during the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers First Round Group A match between Ireland and Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland 83

Cyprus 75

(After overtime)

ROY DOWNEY was the Irish hero as he hit 16 points to help his side to a hard-fought win over Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Sunday after overtime in their FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers game.

Downey, who was only making his second appearance for the men in green proved he belongs at this level with a superb performance on both ends of the floor.

He, along with Jordan Blount were the standout players for Mark Keenan's side which also featured four other Cork players Cian Heaphy, Kyle Hosford, Adrian O'Sullivan and Keelan Cains.

Hosford, Cairns and O'Sullivan all had their moments in the game, but the surprising aspect for me was the lack of game time given to Cian Heaphy.

He has played very little this week in the two games, the game today and the loss on Thursday to Switzerland.  He deserves more time.  He is a fantastic athlete and at international level when playing underage he has always been a standout player for Ireland. 

His size at the point and his athleticism which is incredible are perfect for an international player.  Hopefully in the next double-header of games in July and August he will get his chance to shine.

Jordan Blount of Ireland celebrates after the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers First Round Group A match between Ireland and Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jordan Blount of Ireland celebrates after the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers First Round Group A match between Ireland and Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Downey played with a calmness and maturity that belied his one previous senior cap.  He linked up superbly with John Carroll and Jordan Blount and he will return to Neptune a much more confident player and that will only benefit them as they chase a place in the Super League play-offs.

Jordan Blount continues to get better with each game.  He is really starting to understand his role within the team and at times he acts as the court captain when Kyle Hosford is not playing.

Not surprisingly Ireland manager Mark Keenan was thrilled with the win.

“Really elated, the guys were fantastic," Keenan said. 

"We did our best nearly to let it slip there in the third quarter, but look the guys never gave up, then we got our rhythm going again, then a great start to overtime. 

"So yeah, the runs of the game were flipping - we got our good run, then they got theirs and lucky enough we held on at the end of regulation to get into overtime, and then yeah just delighted with how we started overtime and took off.” 

This was Ireland's second win of the campaign and leaves them third in Group A with a 2-2 record and still in contention to advance to the next stage of qualification going into their games in June and July against Austria and Switzerland, who both have a 3-1 records.

Ireland responded to the disappointment of conceding a late Cypriot layup with two seconds remaining in the final quarter, which made it 64-64 at the end of regulation.

But the home side powered home in overtime, with Roy Downey hitting eight points including two three point jump shots. 

The C&S Neptune player finished on 16 points, to go with his two rebounds and five assists in his second senior international.

It was a fine all-round performance by Ireland, among them Jordan Blount finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists, John Carroll had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists and Taiwo Badmus contributed 14 points, 12 rebounds and two assists.

It was an even opening quarter.  Both sides started slowly and missed lots of shots but eventually found their form and the sides level at 15 point each after ten minutes of action.

The start of the second quarter mirrored the first, however Adrian O’Sullivan’s three with a little over three minutes to go gave Ireland a 28-26 advantage - it was the start of a 13 point scoring run. 

Flood slotted home his second from three point line 30 seconds later, it was followed by lay-ups from Blount and Carroll. The half was finished off nicely by Downey’s three point jump shot in the dying seconds and Ireland led 38-26.

Kyle Hosford of Ireland in action against Iakovos Panteli of Cyprus during the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers First Round Group A match between Ireland and Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kyle Hosford of Ireland in action against Iakovos Panteli of Cyprus during the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers First Round Group A match between Ireland and Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

A couple of John Carroll free throws opened up Ireland’s account in the third quarter, moments later Blount’s three saw Mark Keenan’s side establish a 17-point lead, 43-26, but Cyprus came back into the game and by the end of the third Ireland led by one 48-47.

Ireland started the fourth quarter poorly and with just over five minutes to go, they trailed 50-57 but a Mark Keenan time out helped Ireland finally find their form again and hit the next nine points to lead 59-57 and be back in control of the game thanks to two huge threes from Ballincollig's Keelan Cairns.

But Cyprus never gave up and forced overtime with a late layup from Zayd Muosa to deny Ireland after 40 minutes.

But come the hour, cometh the man and that man was Roy Downey.

Ireland began overtime brilliantly, their shooting from the three point line exemplary, Blount started it off to put Ireland 68-64 up. Further threes came from Flood and two from Downey, to help Ireland run out 83-75 winners.

Top scorers for Ireland: John Carroll (17), Jordan Blount (16), Roy Downey (16), Taiwo Badmus (14), Sean Flood (11) 

Cyprus: Stefanos Iliadis (14), Zayd Muosa (11), Filippos Vasileios Tigkas (11), Kyprianos Ioannis Maragkos (8), Ioannis Giannaras (8) 

Ireland: Taiwo Badmus (14), Keelan Cairns (), Roy Downey (16), Cian Heaphy (0), Conor Quinn (DNP), John Carroll (17), Jordan Blount (16), Sean Flood (11), Kyle Hosford (0), Lorcan Murphy (0), Adrian O’Sullivan (3), James Gormley (0).

Cyprus: Ioannis Giannaras (8), Christos Loizides (0), Kyprianos Ioannis Maragkos (8), Zayd Muosa (11), Michalis Koumis (2), Roberto Mantovani (4), Iakovos Panteli (9), Nikos Stylianou (8), Stefanos Iliadis (14), Gavriel Kilaras (0), Ioannis Pasiali (0), Filippos Vasileios Tigkas (11)

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