Templeogue aiming to hit ground running against Star

GRIFFITH College Templeogue Men’s Basketball team Head Coach Mark Keenan is expecting nothing easy when his side opens up their 2019/20 Super League campaign away to Belfast Star on Saturday evening.

While they did see off their northern rivals to raise the Champions Trophy for the very first time last season, the men were made to work hard for that victory and Belfast will be aiming to spring an early surprise on home soil.

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Neil Randolph will line out for Templeogue

“Belfast away is a tough opening game on the road” said Keenan. “They [Star] made a big jump up last season and they’ll want to keep that moment.

“We got a good win against them at the start of last season and in the Champions Trophy Final at the end, but they were hard tough games” he admitted.

Keenan and his team have been working hard to bring in new talent having parted company with American Dee Proby and French player Jean Francois Basileu while Luke Thompson has opted to move to the club’s Division One team as he looks to work his way back from some back trouble.

The club’s newly established partnership with Griffith College, while proving very beneficial to both parties, has presented the men’s team with a little more difficulty in recruiting players especially with the league tipping off earlier than normal.

“The league starts early” said Keenan. “It’s come around a few weeks after the summer and we’re a bit behind where we would have liked to be.

“It’s been a different type of recruiting for us and it’s been more difficult in some respects because we have to try and find a good professional level player who’s happy to go to college.

“But, that said, we’ve been very lucky and I’m absolutely delighted with or new American Darren Townes.

“He’s a very experienced player and a proven winner. He won the National Cup with Neptune and he’s played in Portugal at a very high level for the last four to five years.

“He’s a great fella and fantastic to work with. We wanted a more attacking type of player in that position [power forward]” he said.

The club has also secured the services of Spanish forward Xabier Arriaga and Keenan is likewise, excited about the potential he offers saying “Xabier is from Bilbao and has been playing professionally with different clubs from about the age of 17 or 18.

“It’s his first time abroad and we’re delighted to have him” he added.

Former Swords Thunder centre Oisin Kerlin has also joined up with the Reds who will be playing their home games out of the new Nord Anglia International School in Leopardstown.

Keenan still retains the services of his long-serving players like Stephen James, Lorcan Murphy, Neil Randolph, Puff Summers and Jason Killeen while young talent in the likes of Matthew Harper is also starting to break through.

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