The oldest rivalry in Irish basketball will take to the court at the Neptune Stadium tomorrow when BGFNeptune face fellow Cork rivals C&S UCC Demons.
Neptune received a huge boost this week securing a major sponsorship from the Cork Northside Credit Union group consisting of Blackpool, Farranree and Gurranabraher. It will also be a nostalgic night for the newly appointed Neptune coach Ger Noonan but, in his own words, this is a tough baptism in his first game at the helm.
“It couldn’t be tougher than facing the top side in this country but our pre-season preparations have went well and I am hoping my players are ready to play,” Noonan said.
For the UCC Demons captain Shane Coughlan, making his 17th year commitment at this level, this game is just what the doctor ordered.
“We have a good squad and our player coach Colin O’Reilly has put a lot of work into the team so now it’s a case of getting the job done,” Shane said.
Neptune have two Americans in their squad with the former Killester professional Michael Bonaparte joining Grenada-born Nigel Byam with the category rule permitting both from playing at the same time. Demons welcome back American Lehmon Colbert and will also have Niall Murphy, Carleton Cuffe and Shane Duggan available for the forthcoming campaign.
There will be an interesting Dublin derby with the champions Killester travelling to play DCU Saints.
This season it looks as if Killester will have veteran Jermaine Turner as their American and with the nucleus of the team still available they are bound to make a bold bid for honours.
Travelodge Swords Thunder will make their Premier League debut with a home game against Templeogue and have signed the former Killester ace point guard Isaac Westbrooks.
Templeogue, under former UL Eagles coach Mark Keenan, have signed Jason Killeen but lost ace point guard Sean Flood who has departed to play in Germany.
UCD Marian are also involved in a derby game when they host Dublin Inter with Belfast Star hosting UL Eagles on Sunday.
In the women’s Premier League the preseason has seen many changes with players and coaches moving in different directions. The biggest game takes place in Cork on Sunday when Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell entertain reigning champions Team Montenotte.
Brunell have lacked physicality in their previous two years competing at this level and have signed 6’2” American Katie Hannemann and Rosie Tobin who played at a high level in Australia.
“For the last two years our fans and various pundits have been saying we were too small and the players were not mature but believe me that will not be the case in this campaign,” O’Leary said.
The champions welcome back former Neptune Premier men’s coach Mark Scannell and he has a serious squad at his disposal with Jessica Scannell and Marie Breen returning to the fold.
“We have yet to sign an American basically because if a player becomes available I will have to be certain she is better than the players I have at my disposal,” Scannell said.
Liffey Celtics travel to play Meteors with former DCU stars Megan Hoffman and Suzanne Maguire in their squad. UL Huskies minus departed coach James Weldon and ace players Rachael Vanderwal (Spain) and Aoife McDermott (Meteors) are sure to be tested when they play WIT Wildcats at the UL Arena.
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