Holding court: Teamwork is the key to basketball success for Brunell

Northside club is thriving in recent years with 130 females playing for the club from U6 upwards
Holding court: Teamwork is the key to basketball success for Brunell

The Original Bru-Nellies... Sharon O'Neill, Angeline Myers, Carol Fitzgerald, Paula Wilkinson and Ann O'Halloran enjoying a game at Neptune Stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE work of Brunell Basketball Club is widely appreciated and has been well documented throughout this city and county over the years, such is their success on and off the court.

Chairperson Ann Foley is adamant that it will continue for many more years to come.

The club was founded in 1984 by their current president Andrew Drumm and he is the reason why so many people through the years got involved and still remain involved today.

Presently, Brunell are the biggest women’s club in Cork with upwards of 130 playing members as members span from the age of six to 32.

Reflecting on her time with the club Ann looked back on the progress that has been made over the 36 years.

“I joined Brunell in 1988, playing Super League and National League under coach Grace O’Sullivan and I coached the U16 A team from 2003 to 2007 with Janette Carmody,” she said Ann Foley.

“I quickly got roped into the committee which consisted of Andrew Drumm and myself but credit to Andrew he took up as chairman and I was slotted into the role of treasurer.”

Over the years they were joined by some amazing volunteers as Carol Fitzgerald filled the role of secretary from 1996-1999, Janette Carmody from (2003-2009), Jason Thornton from (2009 – 2016) and Trisha Dineen (2011 -2020).

The work of all these volunteers was commended by Ann, as their work helped Brunell advance to the top level of Irish basketball.

In sport, outside of the competitive nature, meeting and having best friends has been a huge plus for Ann.

“My best friends are Angelene Myers, PRO and head coach; Michelle Tobin, assistant coach Super League for numerous years and Paula Wilkinson, who is the manager of our U16A side.

“While trying to establish an Academy I asked my husband Ken to take a session or two, and with my persuasion, and Kieran O’Leary’s insistence, he agreed for a few weeks until we got a replacement to fill the gap and 22 years later he is still there.

“Ken has had some great helpers over the years and the current team include Colette O’Leary and Gary Walsh as we have up to 40 kids turning up every Wednesday.”

The Brunell U18A Team defeated Cobh in the Championship final last season.
The Brunell U18A Team defeated Cobh in the Championship final last season.

Kieran O’Leary joined Brunell in 1998 coaching both the U12 and U18 teams for years before eventually moving on to National League and Super League.

Along with Kevin Harris, they had great success at local and national level winning the U18 Cup in 2012, 2013 and 2016.

“Both Kieran and Kevin are still involved with the U18 team and have been integral in bringing various teams over the years on once in a lifetime trips to the USA.

“The Fitzgibbons are a great family to Brunell as over the last 18 years Mary, Denise, Sandie, Patsy and Ger Lyall are part of our coaching staff that epitomises the mantra of being a family club.”

The club have attracted some experienced coaches over the years been blessed over the years to have coaches in the calibre of Francis O’Sullivan and Dommie Mullins.

This year the Brunell coaching staff saw Troy O’Mahony, Mark Foley, Malcolm Thompson and Aoife Dineen added to the list of dedicated people prepared to give up their spare time to the club.

Looking at the club strategy working with bringing in quality players and coaches is a priority according to Ann.

“Our Sports Changes Life Victor Scholars programme have played a very active role in coaching over the years and currently the experienced Aryn McClure is a real hit with the kids and is providing great zoom workouts to all underage members.”

The role of the various volunteers is more than crucial with a club like Brunell.

“We also are very lucky to have an endless list of volunteers who will come out and help whenever needed with Maeve Waters, Terry Dowling, Cheryl Lucey, Deirdre Edmunds to name a few always ready to give hours of free time in helping us.”


The current season was cancelled recently had Tim O’Halloran as head coach with Malcolm Thompson as assistant in what was going to be an interesting one for the northside club.

Sinead O'Reilly of Singleton Supervalu Brunell in action against Michelle Clarke of Pyrobel Killester. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sinead O'Reilly of Singleton Supervalu Brunell in action against Michelle Clarke of Pyrobel Killester. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Sinead Reilly was named captain for the year as coach O’Halloran brought three underage players into the squad with the introduction of Lauryn Homan, Kelly Sexton and Mia Finnegan.

Simone O’Shea returned from Fr Mathew’s and with some experienced players mixed with youth, it would have a true test for Brunell.

Since returning to the Super League Brunell lost a league final to Glanmire in 2015 along with recent cup finals defeats in 2019 and 2020.

Ann praised the sponsorship of Tomás Singleton of Singleton’s SuperValu Hollyhill for his continued allegiance to the club.

“We basically couldn’t operate without his sponsorship and long may relationship last and it would be fitting if our club members could repay his generosity by giving him continued support.

“Tomás Singleton is the sole reason why we can compete in the top flight of Irish basketball and long may our relationship last.”

Brunell Executive Committee:

Ann Foley, chairperson; Suzanne McSweeney, secretary; Ann Foley and Jason Thornton, treasurers; Alison Kearney, PRO; Natasha Homan, fixture secretary; Patsy Fitzgibbon, registrar; Josie Cullinane, child officer; committee members: Angeline Myers, Janette Carmody.

Club Achievements:

Andrew Drumm got the Basketball Ireland President's Lifetime Achievement award in 2019.

The club coaches got Basketball Coach of the Year in 2013, the same year they won 31 titles across local and national competitions.

U14 AICC: 2009, 2013, 2018, 

U16 AICC: 2011, 2012 

U18 Cup: 2012, 2013, 2016 

U20 Cup: 2013, 2014, 2015.

Division 1 Top 4 Final 1989/90, 

Division 1 League winners 1995 under coach Dommie Mullins

Division 1 league final in 2011, where they lost to Liffey Celtics.

Edel Thornton is the only Irish player to play in the Sweet 16 in the States with Division 1 Quinnipiac University.  She was the first Irish player to win the U18 and U20 MVP in the same year and last season Michelle Ugwah was signed by Bella Vista Prep School.

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