Thunder aim to give the cup another crack
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.