UCC DEMONS will be hoping to go one better in the Men’s U20 National Cup final when they face the might of Dublin side Tolka Rovers at the National Basketball Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Demons were unlucky in last year’s final when going down by the minimum to UCD Marian and coach Shane McCarthy is confident his side has the artillery to bring back the title.
“I said last season that we would be returning and I think our semi-final win against a very good Titans side proved we are ready for battle,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy has a talented squad and although Daryl Cuff will miss the final as he is in the States at a camp, other players stepped up to the plate in the semi-final.
“Basketball is a squad game and you could see in our semi-final that players like Cian O’Sullivan and Marvyn Konan, who came off the bench did a great job.”
The Demons chief knows their final opponents are a quality side and they will need a season-best to win the coveted title.
“The standard in Dublin is always strong at this level, as we found out last season when losing to UCD Marian, and I am told this Tolka Rovers have a similar tall team.”
Losing a final can sometimes drive a team on and McCarthy is hoping the heartbreak of last year’s loss will stand to his team.
“Like every coach, I hope I have learned from last year’s defeat and as the majority of the squad experienced it, hopefully the hurt will drive them on as losing at this stage of the cup is not a nice feeling.”
Looking back on the semi-final, Demons played well for long periods, but joint-captain Jack O’Leary will be expected to produce a better performance in the final. O’Leary is a quality player, but he needs to do the simple things on court and getting involved with opposition players is not good for his game.
Over the years Blue Demons have produced great players in different eras; to be put in that category you need to produce it on the big stage and this is an opportunity for O’Leary to show his skills in a game of this magnitude.
One player that will not be found wanting for heart and spirit is the other joint captain Mathew McCarthy who wears his heart on his sleeve.
In the semi-final win over Titans, McCarthy scored some crucial baskets and is a player you need to have in the trenches when going to battle.
Ben Horgan was Demons' leading scorer on 27 points against Titans and his three-pointer when Demons trailed by five coming down the stretch laid the foundation for their win.
What impresses about Horgan is his bravery in taking big shots, but it must be added the rims at the National Arena will test the credentials of any shooter.
Colin Hannigan took a step back from the sport last season, but his return was widely welcomed in this campaign. Hannigan is cool and capable of knocking down the big shots and plays good defence all the qualities you need in a decent basketball player.
Tolka Rovers were impressive in their 89-81 win over Galway side Maree and will have no fear of Demons.
When you have a trio of players with the quality of Elijah Faapito, Sam Badejo and Moustaspaha Kourouma in your squad you always have a chance of winning championships.
Tolka are the top team in a highly competitive Dublin league and word from the capital suggests they are ready to take Demons down.
Demons also have good inside players in Jake Orji, Isaac Eroutteh, and Konan and they will need to be at their best as their opponents look a very athletic side.
This a game that could go either way but surely Demons will not want to return to Cork on the losing side for the second year running and they may just be good enough to shade it.
Verdict: UCC Demons.