Basketball ace O'Sullivan has flown the Ballincollig flag in England and Germany

Basketball ace O'Sullivan has flown the Ballincollig flag in England and Germany
Adrian O’Sullivan in action with Bramsche Red Devils in Germany this season.

ADRIAN O’SULLIVAN has just finished his second year as a professional basketball player.

O‘Sullivan recently returned from Germany and is steeped in hoops. 

He's the son of former Irish international coaches Francis and Grace while his brother Ciarán captained Ballincollig to a Division 1 double last season, where his uncle Kieran is coach and his cousin Ronan is also a key player.

O’Sullivan has come a long way in his basketball career since he first took to the hardwood as a five-year-old.

“I started playing basketball at the age of five with Ballincollig basketball club,” O’Sullivan explained.

Underage success with the club and in Coláiste Choilm secondary school put him on course for international recognition.

The Cork U14 team. Back: Kieran Sullivan, coach, Kevin Lyle, Luke O'Mahony, Ronan O'Sullivan, Brendan Kiely, Dan Mac Eoin, Craig Forde. Front: Adrian O'Sullivan, Roy Downey, Ben Noonan, Brian O'Sullivan, Alan O'Donovan, Eoghan Cotter and Jamie McCarthy. Picture: Damien Quirke
The Cork U14 team. Back: Kieran Sullivan, coach, Kevin Lyle, Luke O'Mahony, Ronan O'Sullivan, Brendan Kiely, Dan Mac Eoin, Craig Forde. Front: Adrian O'Sullivan, Roy Downey, Ben Noonan, Brian O'Sullivan, Alan O'Donovan, Eoghan Cotter and Jamie McCarthy. Picture: Damien Quirke

“I captained the Irish U16 basketball team in 2009. In 2012, I accepted a scholarship to Trinity Pawling in upstate New York for a year. I returned to Cork having accepted a scholarship to UCC where I played five seasons.”

Adrian was a key member of a Blue Demons squad that raised the bar in Irish basketball at the time.

In his final year with the northside club, O’Sullivan completed a masters in public health in UCC where he won an all-star award in the 2017/2018 season. On completion of his studies, an opportunity opened up in England to play for Reading Rockets.

In action for Demons in 2017. Picture: David Keane
In action for Demons in 2017. Picture: David Keane

Like many others, playing professional sports was always a dream of O’Sullivan’s from a young age.

“The timing was perfect and when coach Alan Keane of Reading Rockets, who is originally from Tralee, reached out to me and there was no looking back.

”The Reading year was an incredible experience, We lost out in the National Cup semi-final and the play-off quarter-final that year with a very young team dominated by first-year professionals which was a learning curve in itself.

“I also picked up quite a bad ankle injury in January that season and I missed out on 10 games and eventually ended up averaging 11 points, four rebounds and three assists over the season.”

Adrian O’Sullivan about to score for English side Reading last season.
Adrian O’Sullivan about to score for English side Reading last season.

Reading was the right step in O’Sullivan’s career and from there he had already been in contact with agents where upon signing with one, an opportunity arose in Brasmche, in the north east of Germany.

He signed quite early in the summer of 2019 and landed in Germany late July for pre-season training with his new club.

“I played in the fourth league where pretty much every player gets some sort of payment to play, some more than others.

“The previous season while I was in Reading, Bramsche Red Devils won their league, and the club was making the step up to the fourth division.

“I knew coming into the season what would lay on myself and the other full-timers within the squad, as it was a whole new experience to our local players.”

At U16 level, Luke O'Mahony, Blue Demons, Roy Downey, Neptune, and cousins Ronan and Adrian O'Sullivan, Ballincollig, represented Ireland. Picture: Richard Mills.
At U16 level, Luke O'Mahony, Blue Demons, Roy Downey, Neptune, and cousins Ronan and Adrian O'Sullivan, Ballincollig, represented Ireland. Picture: Richard Mills.

O’Sullivan played point guard in his professional career and it was also a great opportunity for growth within his own game as his years in Blue Demons were spent as a combo guard with Shane Coughlan, Kyle Hosford, and Roy Downey.

“Our goal was to stay in the league and climb the ladder and right before our season was cancelled due to covid19 we were doing just that.”

O’Sullivan learned that living away from home has its ups and downs.

In England, with it being his first year as a professional player basketball, it was his everyday job, while at home in Ireland, basketball was his outlet from study, his part-time job or just life in general, so now he had to find another outlet to forget about basketball.

“I wouldn’t pass it up for the world, however, it can become overwhelming at times if you let it get to you.

“I had to learn not to get too high on the good days or too low on the harder days.

“You could have a great session on the Monday and stink the place out on a Tuesday. it was important I realised how to stay the course despite the outcome of how I was playing.

“It was consistency and hard work that mattered most. I’ve learned an awful lot about myself, my game has become more mature naturally with adjusting to how to play with different team-mates from all over the world.

“This season I captained my club team where my team-mates spoke German, Croatian, Lebanese, and Lingala before they spoke their broken English. It can be funny sometimes when you take a step back and look at what you have just come through.”

On Ireland duty against Luxembourg. Picture: Larry Cummins
On Ireland duty against Luxembourg. Picture: Larry Cummins

Right now O’Sullivan has a few decisions to make on whether to make another move back into Europe or to start a new chapter back in Cork, wearing the Village singlet for the first time in eight years.

“My home club have made massive strides in the last few years and next season they will compete in the Men’s Super League. I have the summer to weigh up my options.”

Mark O'Sullivan closes in on Adrian O'Sullivan at the Shooting Stars camp in Ballincollig. Picture: Gerard Bonus
Mark O'Sullivan closes in on Adrian O'Sullivan at the Shooting Stars camp in Ballincollig. Picture: Gerard Bonus

O’Sullivan played in the 2016 European Championships for small countries and also in 2018 when Ireland managed to win a bronze medal under head coach Pete Strickland.

“The list of Irish kids, male and female, heading to the States, and now players like myself signing pro contracts in Europe, I think our game is going in the right direction.

“Playing for the senior men’s Irish team has been a great experience and something I would love to continue to play as long as I can.”

Kieran O'Brien, Dylan Corkery, Ronan O'Sullivan and Adrian O'Sullivan.
Kieran O'Brien, Dylan Corkery, Ronan O'Sullivan and Adrian O'Sullivan.

The game of basketball has brought Adrian to great places all over the world, but he finds it hard to beat the feeling and buzz of playing, and representing Ireland on the international stage.

I have no doubt he will continue to wear the green jersey where ever he plays next season.

Ballincollig's Adrian O'Sullivan takes on Colum O'Sullivan of Bantry in the U13 final in 2006. Picture: Donna McBride
Ballincollig's Adrian O'Sullivan takes on Colum O'Sullivan of Bantry in the U13 final in 2006. Picture: Donna McBride

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