Duggan inspires Demons to win as Neptune fall flat

DERBY games can be everything, close, tight, exciting but last night’s clash between UCC Demons and Bord Gáis Neptune was all about one side — Demons — and one can only wonder how much importance should be attached to the scoreline and the result, heading towards the business end of the Nivea for Men SuperLeague.

When they crossed paths two games into the current season it resulted in a nailbiting thriller, with Neptune fighting back to win by two points.

This time, however, nothing like that was ever going to happen as the visitors took total control of the third quarter, outscoring their arch-rivals 32 points to 16 and virtually putting the game out of reach.

Neptune battled throughout the first half as Demons tried to exert their influence on the game. They were 16-21 down at the end of first quarter after setting the early pace. Their American, Ron Thompson, was showing promise, Ger Noonan was fighting for every scrap but Phil Taylor was being held.

Demons’ coach, Paul Kelleher, sat their American, Shawn Atupem who was on two fouls, down for much of the second quarter and Neptune came back to trail by seven, 43-36, at half-time.

But that was as close as they would get. Kyle Hosford hammered them with a three pointer on the resumption and now Demons’ defence was in total control. Shawn Atupem and Carlton Cuffe were superb under the boards but Shane Duggan hit new heights. His 19 points highlighted his contribution and his three-pointer with seconds remaining told it’s own story.

The performance delighted Demons’ coach, Paul Kelleher, who praised what was close to the total team performance insisting that it was the culmination of hard work and continuous development over the past year.

“It has been a great development year for us,” he said. “We have been working to get everybody up to speed and what we saw tonight was the culmination of a lot of work over 2010 and 2011 seasons and tonight was a nice way to end 2011.

“The lads have worked really hard — the likes of Danny O’Mahony’s improvement over the last three weeks has been exceptional. What he showed tonight has been down to his hard work. Shane Duggan has been crying out for minutes all year and tonight he really upped it up to another level.

“Niall Murphy, Calton Cuffe, Kyle Hosford, I could name the whole bench because everyone contributed to this.

“We are very happy with our American. He fits into our system extremely well and he puts in a lot of hard work five days a week.”

He insisted that they have not really thought about the cup semi-final in two weeks time when they cross paths again. “We have Moycullen first and we have Killester after that. We’ll focus on those games. This means absolutely nothing come the cup game.”

But Neptune coach, Mark Scannell, insisted they will be coming out with all guns blazing for the cup semi-final.

“This was a horrible defeat,” he said. “We never got going. I thought defensively we were a joke. I don’t mind a team having a night off offensively but this happened tonight and we did not shoot the ball well. When you don’t shoot the ball you must break with defence. We did not get it defensively and that annoys me.

“We worked our way back into the game at half-time and all we had to do is come out. Kyle Hosford hit a three and it started from there. Unless you play defence, unless you stop the opposition and stop your direct opponent — that’s the way we were all brought up — you are in serious trouble. We have a lot of work to do. We’ll be doing nothing else only working on defence over the next two weeks and we will be a different team by hook or by crook. There is no way I’d accept that from any team of mine.

“In fairness to the lads they are all in there and their heads are down and they are good, honest guys. For some reason tonight we did not gel as a team and we did not click into place. Some nights it just doesn’t happen and tonight was one of them. We have been doing really well and expectations have gone up. The cup is a one-off game, different scenario, different time and we’ll be ready. We have a big game against UL on Monday.”

Top scorers for Neptune: R. Thompson 24, G. Noonan 12, P. Taylor and R. Downey 6 apiece.

Top scorers for Demons: S. Atupem 22, S. Duggan 19, C. Cuffe 16.

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