Neptune exit Basketball Premier League

Blue Demons secretary Troy O’Mahony has denied that the club poached Roy Downey from Neptune, after a Neptune statement implied the departure of Downey was a key reason for the storied Cork side’s departure from the top tier of Irish basketball.

Hoops fans were stunned at the weekend when Neptune announced their withdrawal from the men’s Premier League, with club chairman Paul Barrett issuing the following statement.

“Neptune Basketball Club had entered this year’s Premier League campaign and had committed to the association and the other teams. A lot of work had taken place behind the scenes by our club executive to allow this to happen.

“However, with all the off court work done, things changed for the worst this week when Roy Downey decided his future was with Blue Demons BC.

“This forced the club executive to revisit the decision to enter the Premier League.

“When all things were considered, including the loss of Michael McGinn and Jermaine Camara last year, and Mattie Rudak and Jordan Blount heading Stateside and finally, despite assurances from Roy Downey that he would commit to Neptune, he has decided to transfer to Blue Demons.

“When the executive of Neptune BC considered the situation it was decided to withdraw from the Premier League and play in the National League Division 1 for the coming season.

“Neptune BC has a long history of competing at the highest level nationally and will continue to work hard with our talented underage players with the aim of regaining our status as a formidable club side competing on the biggest stage of Irish basketball.”

Neptune won the men’s Premier National cup in 2013 but a year later Mark Scannell, the man who led them to that unexpected win, left the club.

Last season, Ger Noonan was promoted to player-coach and despite starting the season with American Nigel Byam and having a back-up in Michael Bonaparte they had a disastrous season.

The decline in fan support was evident and with Byam opting to leave before Christmas, Neptune struggled to stay the pace with the elite sides.

It’s well-documented that the Cork derby games are one of the most anticipated events in the Irish sporting calendar and many fans will be disappointed Neptune’s withdrawal will now deny Leeside two iconic sporting occasions.

The news has rocked neighbours Blue Demons - playing now under the C & S UCC Demons banner - according to Demons secretary Troy O’Mahony.

“As a club we are saddened to hear that our greatest rivals are not competing in the Premier League next season,” he said.

However, O’Mahony was quick to quash rumours the club had approached Roy Downey, a 21-year-old who has just returned from China with the Irish select side.

“At no stage did we ever try and poach Roy as we know it’s a cardinal sin to operate in an underhand manner that would weaken our greatest rivals,” added O’Mahony.

“I think people will know we created history last season when completing the grand slam unbeaten and we still have a very strong squad of players at our disposal.

“The derby games are huge money-spinners to both clubs and I think not alone will Cork suffer but I think Irish basketball in general will feel the loss of a great club like Neptune.

“On behalf of Blue Demons, we would genuinely hope that Neptune can rebuild and re-enter the Premier league again next season as it just won’t be the same without them.”

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