They produced winning team after winning team, developed great players who went on to play for their country and senior with clubs all over Ireland, but ask anyone who came through the famed North Monastery Juvenile Basketball Academy at that time in the 1980s and '90s, and they will all say the same thing.
Developing them as players and people was the goal, and boy how they succeeded.
They were way before their time in terms of their thinking.
“I hope that all the people that played for me are better for being part of what we trying do at the time.
So many North Mon players played international basketball for their country, it would be impossible to name them all. However, two players, Francis O’Sullivan and Eugene O’Sullivan, who played in the 1979 European Championships in Bulgaria under coach Liam O’Connell were the first from the club to do so.
“The one year which always stands out for me is our 1987/88 season when Jerry Rodgers and Mick Regan helped me and the team to win the National Cup and the World Youth Championship at Crystal Palace when we beat Kingston in the final.
“That was the way in those days; as young players, we learned the art of playing one v one, two v two, and so on, before we could play full games,” Hannigan said.
“It was a great experience with over 40 teams playing from all over the world. When the tournament was finished, at the closing ceremony, all the plays from the different teams joined hands, and sang the famous Micheal Jackson song We Are The World, spine-chilling stuff.”
“I was an U17 international player with Eddie Cooke at the time, and the team were sent for a run around the Farranree area when Eddie and myself decided we didn’t have to do it, and we went to shop instead.
“What I learned working in that committee I took forward in other roles. More recently, I’ve served on various Basketball Ireland committees including Coaches’ committee, the Men’s National Competitions Committee, and as company secretary with the board.”
Both players came through the juvenile section of the club, both are now huge fish in the pharmaceutical world, with Ronnie owning his own company and Martin, now based in China after first conquering England and then Europe.
Since I started on with this project on the North Mon a few weeks ago, I have experienced every emotion.
Martin and Roy O’Keeffe, Jim and Stephen Hannigan, Eddie Cooke, Gerry Galgey (won three National League with three different clubs North Mon, Tralee and Neptune), Owen Crowley, Charles Meehan, David Brosnan, who went to Iona College in New York for four years, Mark Scannell, Joe Hoare, Bobby Kelleher Paul Lenihan, and Jason Finnegan, who all went on a one-year scholarship to the States, Mark Long, who spent four years in college, and still resides in America today.
I had many mentors at the club steering me in the right direction, people like Conny Daly, Eugene O’Sullivan, Noel Lane, Francis O’Sullivan, and Roger Kelleher who guided me (with great difficulty at times) for which I will be forever grateful for their time and patience shown to me.