Opinion: Cork basketball clubs must focus on developing homegrown players

John Coughlan argues that teams like Neptune, Ballincollig and Glanmire can't lose sight of underage player development
Opinion: Cork basketball clubs must focus on developing homegrown players

Homegrown Tradehouse Central Balllincollig basketballer Dylan Corkery. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

THE BASKETBALL season at national level is certainly up and running and after the first month players are still brushing the cobwebs off after spending 19 months on the sideline.

In the Men’s Super League and Men’s Division 1 National League the influx of Americans and Europeans has set the alarm bells ringing for the up and coming Irish players.

Ballincollig entered the national league back in 2016 with the intention of giving their young players something to aspire to and in the words of one official at the time: “We don’t want to become a nursery for other clubs who are competing at the top level.” 

At the end of their time in the Men’s Division 1, they had two professionals and now in the Super League that has increased to three.

This is not a criticism of Ballincollig because in truth if they don’t go with the flow they have no business competing at the top level. 

So far they've won their three league games and lost a close cup clash with Tralee Warriors at the weekend.

The other Cork Super League side Neptune also have one American and two Europeans. So similarly, Irish players are denied court time. This has to be classed as a worrying trend for the future of the sport in this country.

 Keelan Cairns, Ballincollig, trying to stop Cian Heaphy, a production of Neptune's underage academy. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Keelan Cairns, Ballincollig, trying to stop Cian Heaphy, a production of Neptune's underage academy. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Amazingly its far worse in the Men’s Division 1 league with the championship favourites Sligo having six players that are either American or European in their squad.

Ireland are now due to play a level higher at both men’s and women’s international level and the way things are panning out don’t be surprised to see an influx of players outside of the Irish leagues playing in those competitions.

The former CEO of Basketball Ireland Bernard O’Byrne did an excellent job along with the clubs in getting the association back on a strong financial footing.

However, in my opinion, during O’Byrne’s tenure, too many teams were allowed into the national league without having suitable structures or support bases.

The new CEO is John Feehan and maybe his first job should be to look at this situation because if the present trend continues the best Irish players won't be able to progress from underage. 

It was a mixed weekend for Cork teams in the National league with Tradehouse Central Ballincollig getting eliminated at Tralee Warriors.

It was a different story for The Address UCC Glanmire as they thrashed Killester in the Women’s National Cup in Dublin. Killester defeated Glanmire in Cork in a league game a week before this game but the Dublin side didn’t expect what their Cork opponents had in the locker.

The return of Claire Melia led the Glanmire revolution but credit also to coach Mark Scannell who is probably the best in the business for preparing teams for games of this importance.

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