Ballincollig's co-captains hope to inspire the next generation of basketballers in the growing club

Ballincollig's co-captains hope to inspire the next generation of basketballers in the growing club
Colin Murray of Ballicollig goes up for a basket. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

BALLINCOLLIG Basketball Club can stop dreaming and start planning for a bright future after making the long-awaited breakthrough on the big stage.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Ballincollig had already developed into one of the strongest and largest basketball clubs in the country, competing well across all the underage grades and regularly producing internationals. Yet to take the next step - with a sustainable national league team - the prestige of the cup triumph last Saturday was vital.

Just three years ago their senior men’s team tipped along in the local league with a core of seven players. This week they’re toasting a magic trip to Tallaght, capped off with a homecoming to sponsors Tradehouse Central in Ballincollig on Monday evening, after detours to Healy's and Mary O'Connell's.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Kieran O'Sullivan, Cameron Clark, Daniel O'Sullivan and Ciarán O'Sullivan with Tradehouse Central manager Ed Burke.
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Kieran O'Sullivan, Cameron Clark, Daniel O'Sullivan and Ciarán O'Sullivan with Tradehouse Central manager Ed Burke.

There are 60 adult males togging out if you include the three squads across Division 1 and 2 of the local leagues, while numbers are healthy too underage and in the female section of the club. Demons and Neptune will always be the bluebloods of Cork basketball, but Ballincollig have taken the first step towards establishing themselves as a real force.

The stunning upset over Killorglin was fantastic for the hardcore supporters who made the journey to bang their drums in the arena in a tense and gripping battle. The likes of Marita Murphy, Steven Foster, Colman O’Flynn and Nicky Bohane, to name just a few, put in huge work on committees and by coaching teams and their joy was unbridled.

Ballincollig coach Kieran O'Sullivan is huggd by his brother Francis. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig coach Kieran O'Sullivan is huggd by his brother Francis. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It was even more special for the O’Sullivans, Francis and Grace, whose son Ciarán was co-captain and who have given so much to Ballincollig since the 1990s. Francis’ brother Kieran was coach last weekend, with his son Ronan a powerhouse on the court.

Ballincollig came close to national glory in 2008. Spearheaded by Ciarán O’Sullivan and his best friend Daniel, they reached back-to-back U18 deciders but couldn’t get over the line. Both had to leave the club to develop their careers, with Ciarán excelling in Demons’ all-conquering teams, where his brother Adrian still plays.

Ronan O'Sullivan and Ciaran O'Sullivan lift the cup. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ronan O'Sullivan and Ciaran O'Sullivan lift the cup. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

“It felt different wearing the black jersey again in the Arena,” explains Ciarán. “I threw up a photograph on Instagram the day before in the same number 11 in the U18 final. Having Daniel out there as well, another surviving member of that team made it even more special.”

The X-factor was supplied by the MVP, Cameron Clark, with 29 points.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Cam Clark celebrates. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Cam Clark celebrates. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

“You got that feel that we were moving the ball, sharing it, even when shots weren’t dropping. Then when it was money time and we needed the big baskets, Cam came up trumps.

“They lost to Carlow in the league a few weeks ago and the air of invincibility kind of came away. We got a bit of confidence and I thought we were just as impressive in the semi-final as they were. We built on that.”

Ciarán also felt 19-year-old young gun Dylan Corkery blasted them over the line. “He doesn’t get enough credit because he’s not hitting huge scores. It’s his intangibles, the loose ball, the rebounds, the defence.”

Ballincollig had their woes coming in, but in a way, it only spurred them on to leave nothing behind.

“It was far from ideal. I was really under the weather, Ronan hadn’t trained since the semi and Daniel injured his arm only last week but we said we’d have a cut. You have to in a final. Excuses don’t matter once the game is over, only the result.”

Collig fans Amy O'Sullivan and Jennifer O'Regan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Collig fans Amy O'Sullivan and Jennifer O'Regan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Ciarán’s cousin Ronan blocked like an NBA centre despite the fact he tore a ligament on the side of a wrist he previously broke three times. That wasn’t going to keep him out of the decider, but he won’t feature again this season, as he headed to London for a job with Red Hat software developers last Sunday.

“We’ve a great bunch, excellent coaching across all levels but it was massive to get a cup win. The club is going in the right direction and hopefully what we did will inspire every young player who wears the black jersey.

“We have big characters. Cameron Clark, all the way from Texas, Jack Kelly, from Waterford, and the likes of Colin Murray and Daniel O’Sullivan, who are Ballincollig to the core. There are plenty of U20s on the bench, who are going to come through.

“It’s even better with your own people. The sweetest.”

Coach Kieran O'Sullivan with Ronan and Ciaran O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Coach Kieran O'Sullivan with Ronan and Ciaran O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more