Thun­der aim to give the cup an­other crack

Fingal Independent - - SPORT - BY PAUL BYRNE

SWORDS Thun­der ended their pre-sea­son in style as they claimed vic­tory in the Donie Greene memo­rial tour­na­ment in Gal­way over the week­end.

With the ma­jor­ity of top Su­per League sides tak­ing part in the com­pe­ti­tion this was the per­fect con­fi­dence-booster for Dave Baker’s side ahead of Satur­day evening’s open­ing league game away to Killester.

Thun­der beat Belfast Star in the semis be­fore see­ing off last year’s Su­per League win­ners Tem­pleogue in the final, while Isaac West­brooks claimed yet an­other prize to add to his bur­geon­ing col­lec­tion as he walked away from the tour­na­ment with the MVP golden ball.

Thun­der’s coach Baker stated that he was happy with how his team have looked in pre-sea­son and spoke about the new ad­di­tions to his squad for the 2017/18 sea­son.

‘Win­ning the Donie Greene memo­rial is the per­fect way for us to end our pre-sea­son,’ he said.

‘There was some high-qual­ity teams in­volved, in­clud­ing last year’s league champions Tem­pleogue and UCD who have been tipped to do big things this year. Win­ning the tour­na­ment was a nice con­fi­dence-booster for us ahead of what will be a tricky tie away to Killester.

‘Dur­ing the off sea­son we’ve lost three play­ers which we have had to re­place. Un­for­tu­nately Jose Maria Gil Nar­bon has re­turned to Spain to play in their sec­ond di­vi­sion. Jose was huge for us last year and will be missed.

‘We have also lost the big man Conor Gal­lagher as well as Alex Calvo who has put his de­gree on hold for a year.

‘To make up for those three losses I’ve brought in Travis Black who has been play­ing for Clay­ton State Univer­sity in Amer­ica for the last num­ber of years. He ac­tu­ally played un­der­age bas­ket­ball for Swords be­fore he went to Amer­ica and he is an ab­so­lutely su­per player.

‘I’ve also brought in Oisin Kier­nan who is 6ft 10 and who I feel will do well for us. Alex Lundquist, a 6ft 7 Nor­we­gian, is also on the ros­ter this year as well as a guy called Luka Jokovic, so all in all I’m pleased with our busi­ness over the sum­mer and I feel we’re ready for the new sea­son.’

Swords en­joyed an ex­cel­lent sea­son last year, fi­nally break­ing their Na­tional Cup hoodoo with a thrilling vic­tory over Killester last Jan­uary. That was the club’s very first Na­tional Cup and they would go on to fin­ish sec­ond in the league just be­hind Tem­pleogue.

When asked about his am­bi­tions for this sea­son, Baker ad­mit­ted that win­ning the league would be spe­cial, but re­tain­ing the Na­tional Cup re­mains his num­ber one am­bi­tion.

‘Since I’ve been here we’ve fin­ished sec­ond twice and third once and have been a bit un­lucky given our points to­tal, for our two sec­ond-placed fin­ishes would have been enough to win the league in pre­vi­ous years.

‘We try and set out achiev­able goals at the start of each sea­son and if you were to ask me to rank what we want to do I would say re­tain the Na­tional Cup and win­ning the league in that or­der.

‘The league is go­ing to be very strong this year, so it won’t be easy, but we’ll give it ev­ery­thing we have.’

West­brooks starred for Swords Thun­der in Gal­way at the week­end.

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