Cork basketball: Neptune host UCC Demons as great rivals get back on court

Ballincollig are also in Super League action at home to Moycullen
Cork basketball: Neptune host UCC Demons as great rivals get back on court

Jordan Blount of Neptune pictured at the launch of the and Super League and Division 1. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

THERE are various rivalries in the many different sports around this country but when it comes to basketball nothing compares to when Neptune and UCC Demons go head to head.

Saturday night at the Neptune Stadium (6.30pm) another chapter of their 56-year history will continue and what makes it more interesting is that Demons are back in the Super League for the first time in three years.

After losing a number of players in 2019 the club decided to take a sabbatical to recharge their batteries and after 12 months sidelined they returned last season and swept the boards in the Men’s Division One league completing a league and cup double.

Over the summer months, head coach Daniel O’Mahony set about building a squad capable of making the jump back to the top level.

The club welcomed the Hannigan twins James and Scott from Neptune and their determination and attitude are sure to put a spark into Demons this season. 

Many people thought Kyle Hosford was coming to the end of his career last season as he played through the majority of the campaign struggling with injury. To be fair Hosford is a warrior and after a three-month rest decided to go again and his preseason form has been impressive.

This season Demons have signed American Jerimiah Moore who starred for his local High School in West Orange.

Jeremiah played his College Basketball at West Virginia State University where in his final two seasons he started in every game and in his senior year he averaged 19 ppg and nine rebounds including a college career-high 41 points against Fairmont State.

Along with the returning Division 1 Young Player of the Year Tala Fam Thiam and they have also recruited 6' 11" Kingsley Nwagboso from Bolton in England.

Kingsley Nwagboso and Jeremiah Moore of UCC Demons pictured at the launch of the and Super League and Division 1. Picture: INPHO/Tom Maher
Kingsley Nwagboso and Jeremiah Moore of UCC Demons pictured at the launch of the and Super League and Division 1. Picture: INPHO/Tom Maher

Speaking ahead of tonight’s game coach Danny O’Mahony believes it will gauge the progress of his side with Neptune being touted as championship favourites.

“We are under no illusions as Neptune are a quality side with a top class coach and we will have to be at our very best to compete with them.”

The mood in the Neptune camp is positive as coach Colin O’Reilly has assembled what looks a championship-winning side.

Irish Senior International Jordan Blount is back after his European and American experience and he is bound to pose teams plenty of problems in this league.

On the American players front, Neptune signed Jordan Evans, the former Tralee Warriors ace who featured with the Kerry side during the 2018-'19 season.

Born in Houston Texas Evans is a serious shooter and he could well pose Demons plenty of problems if their defence allow him clear looks.

The victory scholar American is Keonn Scott from Wooster College in Florida and he is a highly-rated guard.

As a Bosman, Neptune acquired Spanish ace Xavier Arriaga a former Templeogue and Killorglin player who has plenty of experience in this league. Indeed Spanish players seem to be admired at Neptune as the popular Catalonian Nil Sabata is now settled in Cork and he will be playing in his fourth season with the club.

Irish players Cian Heaphy and Roy Downey have a good pedigree at this level and will play a big part in their season.

Unless Neptune go into meltdown and Demons produce a Houdini act it looks like a home win.

Verdict: Neptune.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig have changed their name to Emporium Cork Basketball. They went so close to winning the Men’s Super League last season and begin their campaign with a home clash against Galway side Moycullen.

Many changes at the club with Kieran O’Sullivan stepping down from his role as head coach and their superb American Andre Nation deciding to strut his skills in the German league.

Ciaran O’Sullivan, as player-coach, takes over at the helm ably assisted by Daniel O’Sullivan and they have recruited a very promising American in John Dawson. Dawson has impressed since his arrival and his ability to knock down shots will give the Ballincollig players plenty to cheer about.

Ballincollig’s John Dawson. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Ballincollig’s John Dawson. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

On the European front Ballincollig have secured Spaniard Jose Jiminez and also retained the services of his fellow countryman Pau Cami.

For assistant coach Daniel O’Sullivan it should be an exciting season for all concerned at the club.

O’Sullivan said: “We have had a decent preseason and the players are eager to get started but we will be taking nothing for granted against Moycullen.”

Looking at both squads Ballincollig look odds on to get their season up and running with a win.

Verdict: Tradehouse Central Ballincollig.

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