However, O’Donoghue, a highly respected coach, was defiant after watching his side blitz St Mary’s in the second half of this entertaining game.
“I have a job to do and although I have the utmost respect for the St Mary’s club, Demons invited me to coach at the start of the season and this is a dream come true for all concerned,” O’Donoghue said.
“I was fuming at the way we played in the first half but we got it together at half time and from there I never felt we were in danger of losing.”
Demons raced into an eight-point lead that included a stunning Kyle Hosford dunk.
Castleisland player-coach Brian Clernon and stalwart John Teahan did not start the game but their introduction posed the Cork side all sorts of problems.
Teahan’s first touch was a three-pointer but the same response from Demons’ Shane McCarthy in the closing minute helped the Cork side into a 21-14 lead.
Credit to St Mary’s, they rattled Demons in this period with Teahan continuing with his deft moves to the hoop and Clernon draining consecutive three pointers.
Demons had to rely on the outside shooting of Brian O’Neill, but the game was still in the balance at the interval with Demons commanding a four-point lead, 42-38.
The Saints continued to battle on the restart but the game took a dramatic turn in the 25th minute when a moment of indiscipline by Declan Wall saw him punished for an ‘unsportsmanlike’ foul.
Hosford duly nailed the resultant free throws and followed up with abasket and steal that saw Demons rack up six unanswered points.
The Cork side piled on the pressure and scored at will with St Mary’s trailing 62-47 entering the final period.
It was a case of going through the motions for Demons in the last quarter as coach O’Donoghue could afford to use many of his fringe players.
Despite coming out on the losing side, St Mary’s player-coach Clernon praised his team’s effort.
“If I have to be honest Demons are a very talented side and we did very well for long periods but simply ran out of gas in the second half,” he said.
Top scorers for Blue Demons: B O’Neill 23, K Hosford 14, T Priou 11
Top scorers for St Mary’s: B Clernon 15, J Teahan 15, D Griffin 14.
BLUE DEMONS: D O’Mahony, J Carmody, N Brown, S McCarthy, K Hosford, S O’Connell, B O’Neill, R McGowan, T O’Halloran, S Rodgers, C Anon, T Priou.
ST MARY’S: D Culhane, T Fleming, S Brosnan, D Wall, B Clernon, B Wiseman, R O’Rahilly, M Broderick, A Fitzgerald, V Velykis, D Griffin, J Teahan.
MVP: Brian O’Neill (Blue Demons).