Cork basketball legends Wilkinson and Forde inducted into the Hall of Fame

Cork basketball legends Wilkinson and Forde inducted into the Hall of Fame
Caroline Forde dribbling with the ball for Blarney in 1988.

TWO Leeside basketball legends are being inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall of Fame.

Blarney playmaker Caroline Forde and eight-time Super League winner with Neptune Tom Wilkinson will be honoured alongside Michelle Aspell and Noel Keating.

A total of 12 people have previously been acknowledged, including Liam McGinn, one of the founders of Neptune.

Forde lit up the court in the league and for Ireland, and alongside her sisters Miriam and Annette, who have both since passed, she drove Blarney to incredible success. They graduated from the U19 National Cup victory to land three leagues, two cups and two Top-Four championships for the club.

Blarney team in 1987. Back: William Stokes, coach Dommie Mullins, captain Miriam Forde, Annette Forde, Mary Sullivan, Beryl Piper, club chairman Jim O'Keeffe; front, Mary McGuire, Jess Hurley, Maeve O'Brien, Caroline Forde, Tracey Nagle, Sandy Fitzgibbon and Elaine Hurley.
Blarney team in 1987. Back: William Stokes, coach Dommie Mullins, captain Miriam Forde, Annette Forde, Mary Sullivan, Beryl Piper, club chairman Jim O'Keeffe; front, Mary McGuire, Jess Hurley, Maeve O'Brien, Caroline Forde, Tracey Nagle, Sandy Fitzgibbon and Elaine Hurley.

She subsequently excelled for Lee Strand in Tralee and Waterford Wilcats. Her 41-point haul in the 1991 Top Four overtime win over Wildcats remains the highest score in a premier senior women’s national final.

Forde was also twice Cup final MVP and took to the hardwood over 100 times for Ireland. In the 1988 Olympic qualifiers, she averaged 16 points against the likes of Canada and Italy, elite opposition. She later featured with Donoughmore.

The Blarney panel in 1983. Back: Sinead Daly, Mary O'Keeffe, Mary Dilworth, Theresa Munphy, Miriam Forde, Dommie Mullins. Front: Ann Murphy, Caroline Forde, Joan Singleton, Bernie Murphy, Hazel O'Brien.
The Blarney panel in 1983. Back: Sinead Daly, Mary O'Keeffe, Mary Dilworth, Theresa Munphy, Miriam Forde, Dommie Mullins. Front: Ann Murphy, Caroline Forde, Joan Singleton, Bernie Murphy, Hazel O'Brien.

Wilkinson, along with former Neptune comrade Tom O'Sullivan, secured eight leagues.

In a staggering 11-year run up to 1991, Wilkinson was involved in eight league victories, one with Blue Demons. He also landed three cups and five Top-Four trophies, two in his spell with Demons.

Blue Demons squad in 1981. Back: Rich Cotton,Andrew Houlihan, Tim McCarty, Wayne Williams, Gerry Wheeler, David Beckom, Peter Coughlan. Front: Fred Richmond, Tom Wilkinson, Sean Murphy, Joe Coughlan, John Cooney.
Blue Demons squad in 1981. Back: Rich Cotton,Andrew Houlihan, Tim McCarty, Wayne Williams, Gerry Wheeler, David Beckom, Peter Coughlan. Front: Fred Richmond, Tom Wilkinson, Sean Murphy, Joe Coughlan, John Cooney.

An excellent shooter and real leader, he scored a team-high 20 points for Burgerland Neptune in their historic 1982 Roy Curtis international tournament final win over the famed Murray International Metals from Scotland.

Tom Wilkinson of Neptune goes past Peter O'Sullivan of Blue Demons in 1990.
Tom Wilkinson of Neptune goes past Peter O'Sullivan of Blue Demons in 1990.

Capped by his country 100 times, Wilkinson later coached Neptune to a Super League title and was well known as a teacher in Douglas National School until his recent retirement.

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