BRYAN Mangan shocked the basketball fraternity last season when he became the main sponsor of UCC Demons.
Born in Mallow, now living in the USA, Mangan played with the Mallow club for 26 years and was coached by the legendary Michael ‘Fox’ O’Sullivan from U11 right up Division 2 as the north Cork club competed in the Cork league.
At the age of 26 Bryan felt he needed to travel. "I emigrated to Australia and four years later moved to New York where I have a successful business but my love for basketball was always in my heart as I got involved with the Brooklyn Nets."
Meeting Demons' Shane McCarthy and Lloyd Creagh in New York back in October 2022 where the idea of getting behind sponsoring Blue Demons became a reality.
"I knew the lads well and getting behind a club playing in the top tier of Irish basketball was a dream of mine as watching the NBA in the States would give any sportsman a bug.
During my teenage years attending the ICS Cup finals at the Neptune Stadium was a ritual and to be honest the rivalry between Demons and Neptune was unique."
The pandemic was stressful worldwide and Bryan felt that giving something back to his home city would give the people in his homeland a lift.
“I suppose when I thought about Demons were the unpolished diamond with some nice young players in the Super League team and a good U20 side that ended up winning the National Cup.
“Look winning is great but for me, as sponsor, it’s all about enjoying the journey and having fun and I do know when the journey ends, I will have many new friends.
“The ethos of Blue Demons is something that many clubs don’t have and straight away the first thing that jumped at me was the family involvement and to be honest I have met some class people in my short time involved.”
The first game that Bryan got involved with Demons was their derby clash at the Neptune stadium a game they lost by the minimum but in the words of Mangan, he saw something positive from the team.
“Look it was very simple we had an American Jeremiah Moore who didn’t want to be in Ireland and despite what the club tried to do for him he was basically homesick and wanted out.
“Jeremiah didn’t bond with the lads and when the committee told me they were making a change I just told them go for it and the rest is history with the signing of MJ Randolph.”
Randolph certainly turned Demons season and his class saw him get two Player of the Month awards and then Player of the Season in the Men’s Super League.
What I noticed is that he improved the majority of the squad as guys respected him and we all saw immediately he was a jewel in the crown.
“In reality, he exceeded our expectations but getting back to Demons as a club, it was all about the manner he was treated by the people within that included committee and supporters.
“MJ’s parents came to Ireland in March and again the red carpet was rolled out for them as that’s what Demons do and let me add they do it very well.”
Looking ahead to next season Mangan believes Demons will be ready for another tilt at some silverware.
“We don’t have the big pockets of many clubs but what we do have is spirit and that will help us big time.
“Congratulations to Ballincollig I don’t think anybody could deny them the right to win the Super League title as they played the best basketball in the playoffs."
It looks like the Super League will have two Americans per team next season and for Bryan Mangan, it will all be about choosing and signing the right players.
“What can I say our coach Danny O’Mahony will have the task of choosing the Americans, but we hope it will be done early and we will have them in Cork at the end of August in preparation for the new season.
“I have always been a man to dream and firmly believe in the adage: ‘Everyone has bad days, don’t give up. Pause, Rest, Reset, Restart.’ But never quit."