CORK basketball clubs were dealt a huge blow with the news that the 2020/21 Super League and Division 1 league seasons have been cancelled.
Covid ground the campaign to a halt back in October on the eve of tip-off, with January 9 slated for a truncated league programme. However, due to ongoing restrictions, Basketball Ireland can't commit to that start date.
At a meeting of the Men’s National Competitions Committee on Saturday, clubs voted on this drastic action, though no decision has been taken on the National Cup. It's a massive disappointment to C&S Neptune and Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in the Super League, along with Division 1 side Fr Mathew's.
There is no news yet on the women's leagues, where The Address UCC Glanmire, Singleton's SuperValu Brunell and Fr Mathew's are due to compete.
Basketball, and all indoor sports, have been impacted worse than the likes of GAA, rugby and soccer, with underage and adult players forced to train outdoors and banned from passing the ball. They are currently petitioning to at least allow their members to share the basketball at training.
Clearly, basketball doesn't have the status of the big three sports and is currently operating in a vacuum of information and in danger of losing youngsters to the game. Secondary schools competitions are a gateway for many to hoop dreams, but there's little chance of those going ahead this school year.
Basketball Ireland, CEO and chair of the MNCC, Bernard O’Byrne, said: “Basketball Ireland has been lobbying government, but still have been ignored. It shall not stop fighting for recognition and answers from government.
"The MNCC feel that certainty is needed and we cannot keep our clubs, players, officials and volunteers waiting. We would have loved to start our season on January 9, but we’ve been left with no choice. Basketball Ireland has been doing its utmost to help our clubs during these difficult times and it shall continue to do so."
The MNCC statement explained:
"The case for commencement of play in the National Leagues on January 9th behind closed doors, with extra rigorous testing in place, has not been considered properly. It is felt that fair play and consultation has not happened and we can only conclude that we are not trusted to act in a safe and responsible manner.
"We note that many national basketball leagues are taking place throughout Europe with the agreement of the government and heath authorities in those countries.
"As our clubs have commercial commitments as a semi-professional league and cannot be left in uncertainty any longer. We will continue to make the case to the political decision-makers for the playing of elite basketball in 2021. We hope that a competition may be possible in February/March, which will give our players and supporters something to look forward to.
"This is a difficult and disappointing decision to have made but we trust our community understands that we feel it is the only reasonable action to take."