UCC Demons’ Shane Coughlan fully committed to landing major trophy
Now 33 and 16 years playing senior Cork’s Shane Coughlan is still aiming high
Shane Coughlan of UCC Demons under pressure from Barry Drumm and Neil Baynes of UCD Marian Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
MEN’S FINAL: C&S UCC Demons v Dublin Inter
National Arena, Tallaght, 8.45pm
As defeats go, this was the sweetest of Shane Coughlan’s basketball life. In the quarter finals of the National Cup last November, Coughlan and the rest of the UCC Demons team met Marian in the second leg having won the first match by a whopping 30 points. So all they had to do was lose by 30 or less.
If there is one certainty in Irish basketball it is that Demons, one of the old firms of the Irish game, do not lose games by 30 points.
And yet they had fallen into a hole, watching mesmerised as the Marian players shot on sight and hit nothing but net.
“Their statistics from that evening were just off the charts,” says Coughlan – and the name is pronounced in the Corkonian Cawww-lin.
“And we had nothing. Not one of us had a spark. Half the time, we were playing the scoreboard rather than the team and that didn’t help us.”
What it meant was that with less than 30 seconds left, Marian hit a free throw to lead by 98 to 66 , or by two points on aggregate.
Control of the ball
The Dublin team pressed hard and Coughlan found himself in control of the ball.
Nationally, he isn’t the most famous of Cork sportsmen but within the city, his achievements are well known. Tall and rangy, Coughlan has a loping stride and immaculate ball carrying skills and even though Demons felt trapped in a bad dream as they took the ball up court, they had the ball in the hands of the right man.
Coughlan’s final move – a hard drive for the basket then a neat reverse dribble and textbook fadeaway three pointer to win the game as the final buzzer sounded – will go down as one of those moments.
He walked out of the gymnasium after the buzzer sounded, followed by the loyal Demons gang from north Cork who swamped him in the corridor.
“All our initial plans were just to get a basket, the two points and get the game to overtime. I tried to go but it was good ‘D’ by Colm Meaney and it was just step back then and let it go and see what happens. It was unbelievable because for the entire night, it felt like we were out of the cup. Even though we got through, it was a heavy defeat and it made us focus for the league.”
Demons have played in front of bigger crowds in a history that stretches back almost 50 years but the cognoscenti in the gym that night went berserk. Coughlan is literally a child of Demons: his father Peter played ball for the club and later coached the senior side; his uncles Páidí and Joe were Demons stalwarts and his three siblings all played for the club.