Sunday 21 January 2018

Cork's derby days take on a life of their own – O'Reilly

Ruaidhri O'Connor | Basketball

CORK rivals UCC Demons and Neptune renew hostilities at the Mardyke Arena tonight with far more than bragging rights at stake.

Both sides sit on three wins with just points difference separating them in fourth and fifth, with the Demons having played a game less and boasting one of just two 100pc records in the Premier Division.

Last season's meetings saw tonight's host come out the better of the league encounters, but Neptune claimed the spoils in a hotly contested National Cup semi-final. And Demons head coach Colin O'Reilly has tried to encourage his players to put the local element to the back of their minds tonight as they look to keep their run going.

"It's a game that takes on a life of its own regardless of how either teams' form is entering it," he said.

"Having played for six different teams in various derby games, it's evident that the fans get more joy out of them as sometimes the occasion can get players to over-complicate the situation.

"As a group we have detached ourselves from the whole rivalry and have concentrated on the fact that the three points we received for beating Dublin Inter is the same as the three points we will receive if we beat Neptune."

Both teams have good experience in these games and the rosters match up pretty well so a close encounter is expected.

Neptune will have to contain the form of October Player of the Month Shane Coughlan, but last year's Player of the Year Ger Noonan is relishing the task.

"It's the first fixture that any Cork person looks at when the schedule comes out before the season," he said.

"At this stage now we are ready to just go and play it. There will be a full house and all the added excitement around this game. On paper, Demons are the best team in the country, but anything can happen in a derby game."

Elsewhere, league leaders Killester take on Belfast Star at home, while Templeogue host Moycullen, UCD Marian face Dublin Inter and UL Eagles welcome DCU Saints to Limerick.

In the women's Premier League, DCU Mercy seek a derby win over Killester in Clontarf, while champions UL Huskies face Ulster Rockets and league leaders WIT Wildcats host Brunnell.

Irish Independent

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