Demons’ Coughlan eyes big send-off

When you have played at SuperLeague level for 15 years and are contemplating retirement a bit of silverware would be the ideal way to finish your career.

That’s what UCC Demons’ influential captain Shane Coughlan is contemplating ahead of tonight’s mouth-watering Cork derby against Bord Gáis Neptune.

“To be truthful, due a number of reasons I have been thinking about life after basketball in recent months,” Coughlan admitted.

A place in the inaugural National Champions Trophy is at stake and with Neptune already crowned cup champions, Demons will be fired up.

Coughlan (33), winner of four National Cup medals and a SuperLeague title in 2009, is worried Demons will complete a fourth season without silverware.

“When you look at the squad of Irish players we have had at our disposal I feel deflated to have captained a team that has failed to cross the line on a number of occasions,” he said.

So is retirement a reality?

“At the moment I am not saying yes or no because the bottom line is that a number of changes will have to be made if I am going to put my body on the line for another season,” he added.

It is well documented in Irish basketball that several of Demons’ Division 1 cup-winning squad refused to play SuperLeague this season but Coughlan would not be drawn into a discussion on that.

“I have played with this club for 27 years and my policy has always been that you cannot force amateur players to do something they are not happy with and the politics of basketball has never really interested me.

“If I was asked have we our best club side playing SuperLeague the answer would be a definite no but at the end of the day all I ever wanted from playing basketball was pride and honour of representing a magnificent club.”

Looking back at Neptune’s victory over UL Eagles in the cup final, Coughlan believes their preparation and attitude, guided by veterans Michael McGinn and Ger Noonan, was a pleasure to watch.

“We played them in the semi-final and although we blitzed them in the opening quarter they eventually wore us down and in the final they played like a team possessed and for McGinn and Noonan it was just reward for the service they have given the club.”

Demons have been plagued this season with injuries but Coughlan believes they still should have won the SuperLeague crown.

“We were on an eight-game unbeaten run coming up to Christmas and suddenly run out of gas. I think we lacked pace and when Niall Murphy returned we looked a half-decent side but his injury woe came back to haunt him. The present recession is not helping players because if they are asked to work weekends the days for putting sport as the No 1 priority are long gone.”

After defeating Neptune in three of the four games played this season, can Demons chalk up another over their Cork rivals?

Coughlan said: “I would like to think so but it certainly will be a tough battle as they will want to end the season in style and the Mardyke Arena would be the ideal place for them to bask in glory.”


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