IT will be a historic occasion on Saturday at Ballincollig Community School when Tradehouse Central Ballincollig will take to the court for the first time in a Men’s Super League game.
A Cork derby against Neptune, just to add to the occasion, and for coach Kieran O’Sullivan it will be a momentous one.
“We spent three years in Division 1 where we collected plenty of silverware with three National Cups but our dream was all about reaching the summit of Irish basketball.”
Getting into a winning mentality has been a strong foundation for Ballincollig as he praised his players in the manner they battled and trained.
I think winning in any sport doesn’t come easy and we have prepared very hard over the last three years and the guys are looking forward to strutting their skills against the elite clubs in this country."
Ballincollig welcome back American Andre Nation while Adrian O’Sullivan will captain the side and they have added Spanish guard Pau Cami and Milorad Sedlarevic, a powerful Slovenian forward. The former Belfast Star forward Keelan Cairns is also in the squad having secured a job in Cork.
Ciarán O’Sullivan will continue with his playing duties whilst also taking up the role of joint head coach with his uncle Kieran as Ballincollig hope to make an impact.
There was a lot of work put into Ballincollig during the pandemic and with Kevin Mulcahy, a strength and conditioning coach, helping preparations they are now in a better place.
“I think Adrian coming back is a huge boost but I suppose it’s fair to say personnel has changed since we first entered the National League but that’s what you got to do in order to compete.”
The preseason has been a busy one for Ballincollig having various challenge games and winning a tournament in Galway where they defeated a top-class Eanna side in the final after easily disposing of Moycullen.
“Playing games is important before the season starts as many of our players have been side-lined throughout the pandemic and I don’t actually think anything is better than playing competitive basketball.”
O’Sullivan is very aware of the competition that his team will be facing in the coming months.
“Tralee are decent with a good American and I suppose Eanna, Templeogue and Belfast Star will all be stacked with good professionals.”
The work that is done off court is crucial to survival and O’Sullivan was quick to praise the various officials at Ballincollig.
“There is so much to be taken care of and we basically couldn’t have entered this league without the people who run our club and many thanks must go to each and every one of them.”
The present restrictions in Ireland will only allow 100 spectators into the game against Neptune and there is every possibility there will be a lot of disappointed basketball fans.
The build-up to the game has been quiet but O’Sullivan knows what his team will need to do.
“Neptune have a good player-coach in Colin O’Reilly who is very experienced but they have lost a couple of good players in Ger Noonan and Kyle Hosford and they are two very experienced players that would be a loss to any side.
“Word is they have a very good American and in Nil Sabata you have a player who made a huge impact in 2020 so we certainly know we will have to bring our 'A game' to the table in order to get the all-important win.
“I have a feeling they will want to play a high tempo game but in a nutshell, all be revealed pretty soon.”
The influx of Americans and Bosmans into the league this season is concerning as the Irish players' involvement will be restricted.
“You have Killorglin with one American and four Europeans, Eanna have three Bosmans and an American and something similar above in Maree.”
The bottom line for Ballincollig is they needed to recruit as they were wasting their time if they didn’t get extra artillery into their squad. We’ll know against Neptune if they succeeded.
“Let’s hope we give our fans something to cheer about and for me, it’s all about the players enjoying this momentous occasion.”