Coughlan keen for Killester clash as UCC make progress
BASKETBALL:UCC DEMONS captain Shane Coughlan is relishing facing Dublin giants Killester in this year’s men’s National Cup final after his side saw off their fierce rivals Neptune in front of a sold-out Neptune Stadium on Sunday.
The scenes at the stadium at the weekend were reminiscent of the glory days of the 1980s when thousands crammed into the famous old Cork venue. A capacity crowd witnessed the drama of that famous old rivalry between UCC Demons and Neptune, a fitting clash as it is 25 years since Neptune won that famous cup final meeting by the slightest margin (92-91) at the same venue.
However, on Sunday it was the Demons who earned the bragging rights after a pulsating 88-83 win over their neighbours to set up a final date with Killester in two weeks’ time at the National Basketball Arena.
“It was simply incredible on Sunday,” said Coughlan. “It was definitely the best atmosphere I have been involved in.
“The game had everything a great rivalry should. The games in the 1980s were famous down here in Cork and it was special to be part of something that resembled that.
“The sport needed it, maybe the drama on Sunday will tempt more people to come to games on a regular basis.
“We have a great rivalry with Neptune but we are also building something similar with Killester,” he added. “We beat them twice in the league and cup final last season so they will be desperate to atone for that. They have some excellent players and it should be another fantastic occasion.”
Killester’s return to the greatest stage in Irish club basketball is an opportunity to wipe out the disappointment of last season but their head coach, Mark Keenan, is keen to make amends.
“I was totally disappointed because we really had a great team last year and the opportunity was there to win both league and cup and losing both – the sick feeling is still there,” said Keenan.
“We have a chance now to amend for one of those anyway in the cup final.”
Meanwhile, the women’s National Cup semi-finals also provided a similarly romantic story with DCU Mercy reaching the final at the expense of UL and they will now face the might of Team Montenotte Hotel Cork, the side which denied them a final place last season by virtue of a 78-77 dramatic double overtime defeat.
“Hopefully it will be a classic final,” said DCU Mercy head coach Mark Ingle.
“Our sport needs it. I hope it goes right down to the wire – I hope it goes to double overtime – and hopefully we’ll win the game.
“When I drove up to the Neptune Stadium on Sunday I turned right and went up Redemption Road and I thought it was quite apt that I parked the car on Redemption Road – trying to make up for last year and to get over the hurdle was a huge plus for us.”