Cork basketball: Brilliant American MJ Randolph has pushed Demons head of Neptune and Ballincollig

Early in the Super League campaign, UCC Demons were worrying about a relegation battle but now they're second in the Southern Conference
Cork basketball: Brilliant American MJ Randolph has pushed Demons head of Neptune and Ballincollig

Michael Randolph, UCC Demons, in action against Garvey's Tralee Warriors. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE recent performances of UCC Demons American MJ Randolph have certainly lit up the Men’s Super League. 

He has given his team a chance to dream of silverware, turning what looked a near impossibility to a genuine chance, which is testament to this classy player.

Losing consecutive derby games to Energywise Ireland Neptune and Emporium Cork Basketball had one prominent player in Cork suggesting that Demons would be in a relegation battle. Credit to Demons they are one of the few teams to defeat University of Galway Maree this season and that occurred before Randolph landed on Leeside.

A defeat to Sligo All-Stars playing without their injured American signing Jeremiah Moore was followed by another one to basement side Moycullen in Galway with Moore only lasting five minutes in that defeat. They were in real trouble early in the campaign.


If you look back on Demons' history they consistently recruited top-class Americans and for the elder lemons in the sport remember Jasper McElroy, Michael Hancock, York Gross (RIP), Bob Stephens, Lennie McMillan, Tony Hafley and Mike Kennedy.

Now that’s a serious array of talent that graced the courts in Ireland and Randolph’s recent displays will have him remembered as a Demons legend when he departs the scene. 

It is widely now accepted that Randolph is a freak talent and his 40 points against Killester on Saturday last was another top-class display. 

The teams were level going into the fourth quarter but Randolph took the game by the scruff of the neck and blew Killester almost single-handily.

Mark Scannell who has coached and played at the highest level of Irish basketball remarked: “We should embrace MJ’s talent as in my book he could be the best American that we have witnessed in this country for many years.” 

Randolph played his first game in Dublin against Templeogue on December 12 scoring 33 points and their win against Killester was their seventh on the belt. Granted Demons were lucky to pick up a player with Randolph’s skill set but the reality now is they could end up winning the Southern Conference if they keep their winning run intact.

Probably a season too soon for Demons but as a basketball scribe for many years having a player like Randolph in the sport makes your job very fulfilling.


Energywise Ireland Neptune are not having the season they predicted back in September but they got back to winning ways following their derby defeat to UCC Demons with a 60-point win over UCD Marian. Taking nothing away from Neptune but UCD Marian are way off the pace as they showed with only amassing 11 points in two quarters against the Leesiders.

Neptune have a serious starting five that should be competing for honours but as I have mentioned all season they have struggled off the bench with a lack of depth. Even against a team as bad as UCD Marian, with the exception of Jordan Blount (21 points) who is Irish but a professional, the remaining Irish players could only contribute 20 points between them.

 Jordan Blount on the ball for Energywise Ireland Neptune. Picture: Larry Cummins
Jordan Blount on the ball for Energywise Ireland Neptune. Picture: Larry Cummins

I still believe Neptune will be challenging for Super League honours as their starting five is strong and having two Americans at their disposal is a huge advantage.

Emporium Cork Basketball were unlucky not to come away from Belfast Star with maximum points after losing out in overtime to the northerners. Olayer-coach Ciaran O’Sullivan will know that his side had an opportunity to close out the game in normal time only for the Star to level and go on to win in the extra period.

Ballincollig are a good side who will have a big say in the destiny of the title and their away game next weekend against University of Galway will be awaited with bated breath.

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