THE good health of basketball in Ballincollig and the work undertaken in the sport there has been seen on the international stage over the past few weeks.
One look at the most recent squad list of head coach Mark Keenan for the Ireland senior men’s international team must garner a huge sense of pride to those in the Village.
Among those with a Ballincollig background on the Irish squad for the recent two-game international friendly series with Luxembourg was Adrian O’Sullivan, who is currently plying his basketballing trade out in Germany with Red Devils Bramsche.
Another that has been picked in the Ireland squad and certainty on merit is Dylan Corkery. The hard work and excellent attitude of Corkery was deservedly rewarded with a cap for Ireland.
Corkery had a fine campaign last term for Tradehouse Central Ballincollig, picking up the Basketball Ireland Men’s Division One young player of the year award, an accolade which he has now picked up for two years in a row.
Ronan O’Sullivan was another from a Ballincollig background in the Ireland squad. Most recently playing his basketball over in England with the Reading Rockets, Ronan is making a return to play for Ballincollig for the season ahead and is sure to be a big addition to the squad, as Ballincollig seek to get up into the Superleague.
If that wasn’t enough, there was further representation from a Ballincollig point of view in the form of Andrew O’Connor on the Ireland U18 3 x3 team.
O’Connor and his team-mates were out in Italy over the past weekend at the European Cup qualifiers, with Ireland having games against the likes of Germany, Poland, Croatia and Italy to prepare themselves.
The Ballincollig interest on the international stage doesn’t end there. Conor Coughlan represented Ireland in wheelchair basketball in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Speaking about the recent recognition that Ballincollig has gotten on the international stage, Francis O’Sullivan explained it’s a real boost.
“In the last couple of years, we have had Ciaran O’Sullivan as a senior international. We have had Adrian O’Sullivan, who has just started to play professionally in Germany after going from Reading in England.
“Dylan Corkery was a big one getting his first senior cap. Being recognised as young player of the year from Division 1 of the National League.
“The Irish head coach, Mark Keenan, saw Dylan play at the Top Four championship final up in Dublin at the end of the season and was impressed by him and invited him to training. Dylan played in the two games against Luxembourg. He contributed very positively in both of those games.
“It was a big thing for Ballincollig to have another boy come through and play senior international that is actively playing with us.
“There also was Ronan O’Sullivan. He is now back from Reading and will be back playing with Ballincollig at National League level next year.
“Another player in the Ireland men’s squad was Kieran O’Brien, who would have played underage with Ballincollig. He is now playing with Killester in Dublin.”
In their most recent outing, the Ireland Senior m
en came from behind to secure a second consecutive victory against Luxembourg, winning out 90-83 to win the two-game friendly international series.
Trailing for the opening three quarters, Ireland’s stunning fourth quarter turned the tide on Luxembourg in style and ensured they secured the win in front of a large home crowd.
Speaking after that match, Ireland Senior men’s head coach Keenan said: “This is a brilliant positive note to finish the summer programme. We have to realise the level where we need to be starting our programme next year.
“We’ll be trying to really pick up where we left off today and hopefully the players will have a good season with their clubs.
“But I think they realise over this summer campaign between Slovakia and Luxembourg what level we need to be at to really go for it next year.”
The Ballincollig interest on the international scene with Ireland is not confined to the playing side.
Ciaran O’Sullivan is also Ireland U18 men’s assistant coach, working with Paul Kelleher, another Leesider.
“That is another huge thing for us," said Francis. "That as well as producing players that can play all the way up to senior level, we are also starting to see and are very proud of the fact we are developing coaches as well to keep it going around the club.
“It is great that we are producing people that can coach at international level. That is part of our role as a club, is to develop players, but also to develop coaches.
“So Ciaran is out there with the Ireland U18 boys now as well. We are very proud of it and it just shows the hard work that is going in at local level.”