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Ronan O'Sullivan of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig pulls down a rebound in Tallaght. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ronan O'Sullivan of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig pulls down a rebound in Tallaght. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

'We'd a fairly good Ballincollig underage team alright: Damien Cahalane, John Egan and Adrian O'Sullivan...'

THE hours of training, the long road trips around the country and the battles with injury are all worth it when you deliver on the big stage.

In basketball terms that’s National Cup final weekend.

A niche sport in Ireland, the festival of finals in Tallaght every January, offers basketball a chance to make national headlines.

In the recent past, that was only a dream for Ballincollig. While their underage teams were often in the mix for silverware, with the U18s falling agonisingly short in back-to-back deciders in 2007 and ‘08, they didn’t have a senior side in the National League.

In 2017 they took a bold step by entering Division 1 under the Tradehouse Central Ballincollig moniker and haven’t looked back. Last Saturday they completed three in a row in the President’s Cup, to go with a Southern Conference crown and top-four play-off trophy in 2019.

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

They’re also closing in on elevation to the Super League, after being pipped narrowly in the past two campaigns they’re unbeaten this term and four games clear at the summit of the table with just seven games remaining. For Ronan O’Sullivan these are halcyon days. 

They actually underperformed against IT Carlow, perhaps weighed down by the tag of favourites, it took them until overtime to prevail.

“Once you win it doesn’t matter how you did it,” reflected the towering Village co-captain.

“We weren’t at our best but then Carlow were excellent. They came out with a game-plan and it worked very well.

“The main thing is we got over the line. The supporters really got behind us in the second half and that made a difference.”

Andre Nation. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Andre Nation. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

While American Andre Nation and Spaniard Inigio Zabola are vital cogs in the Collig machine, Ronan, his cousin Ciarán, Colin Murray, Daniel O’Sullivan, Dylan Corkery and more are home-grown ballers, while Ronan’s dad Kieran is coach.

“It’s special winning with your friends and family. I was away in England last year working and playing with Reading and I missed this.”

At underage level, O’Sullivan’s team included Ciarán younger brother Adrian, now a professional basketballer in Germany, Cork hurler Damien Cahalane, Irish soccer international John Egan and Barrs goalkeeper James McDonnell.

The Ballincollig basketball club U13 that included future Cork hurler Damien Cahalane, back left, Irish soccer international, next to him, Ronan O'Sullivan, alongside his father and coach Kieran, and professional basketballer Adrian O'Sullivan, second right in the front row.
The Ballincollig basketball club U13 that included future Cork hurler Damien Cahalane, back left, Irish soccer international, next to him, Ronan O'Sullivan, alongside his father and coach Kieran, and professional basketballer Adrian O'Sullivan, second right in the front row.

“We’d a fairly good crew alright!” recalls O’Sullivan. “We still keep in touch. They’re all flying in other sports which is great.”

Sheffield United's John Egan and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. 
Sheffield United's John Egan and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. 

Ballincollig enjoyed their celebrations over the weekend, well looked after by sponsors Tradehouse Central, Mary O’Connell’s and Healy’s.

“Having all the community behind you is really important. In those tight games you know you’re representing more than just yourself and your team.”

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig co-captains Ronan O'Sullivan and Ciarán O'Sullivan with the cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig co-captains Ronan O'Sullivan and Ciarán O'Sullivan with the cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile