THOUGH this is Ballincollig’s first season in the national league, Saturday's historic appearance in a men’s National Cup final is the culmination of almost 40 years of work.
A men’s club was first formed in the mid-Cork town when it was still a village in the late 1970s. It faded, before being revived in 1986. The women’s side has consistently put out teams and the current membership between the two stands at 369 from U9 upwards.
Training and matches are hosted in Coláiste Choilm and Ballincollig Community School. In the medium term, an official home for the club is required to fulfill its potential, though all that matters now is the clash with Killorglin.
Two buses will depart from outside club sponsors Tradehouse Central early Saturday morning carrying the team and supporters. They’re underdogs in the National Basketball Arena, but hopeful all the same.
For a number of players like Ciarán O’Sullivan, Colin Murray, Daniel O’Sullivan and Dylan Corkery, there’s a sense of satisfaction having come through the Collig production line. It’s a similar situation for coach Kieran O’Sullivan, previously involved in the underage, and whose son Ronan, despite a hand injury, is a vital cog of this team.
Club chairman Colman O’Flynn is immersed in the club. His children Seán, Rory and Kate are talented young guns, while his wife Edel is also involved.
“What’s fantastic about having a national league team is that our players now can work towards reaching the top level instead of dreaming about it,” he explains.
“The club needed that because if you take places like Milford or Newtownshandrum, who have so successful inside Cork and beyond, there isn’t the same sporting competition we have in Ballincollig. We’re very much in favour of multi-sport athletes, that our young players enjoy various sports.”
Now Kieran O’Sullivan’s charges have their chance to cement the basketball’s club status as a significant force. It would be a sweet victory for Ciarán and Daniel O’Sullivan who suffered back-to-back U18 final losses in ’07-08, but also the likes of Nickey Bohane, George Meade, Francis O’Sullivan, Marita Murphy and Donal O’Sullivan.
“This team are standing on the shoulders of giants. The previous generations deserve huge credit.
“Obviously this is terrific for all the young players, they’re seeing what you can achieve by coming up through the ranks. There are players wearing the jersey tomorrow who are playing 20 years. The past, the present and the future are all coming together.”