Cork basketball: Paying tribute to the volunteers that keep the ball bouncing

John Coughlan praises the huge effort made by those involved with clubs playing in the National League
Cork basketball: Paying tribute to the volunteers that keep the ball bouncing

Singleton's SuperValu Brunell supporters led on by Mrs O'Halloran cheer on a score in their win over DCU Mercy in the Women's Super league at The Parochial Hall. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE sport of basketball certainly suffered from March 2020 until October 2021 and many may question has the standard of play dipped due to the Covid 19 pandemic?

For Cork clubs, the break seems to have recharged their batteries in different grades with Tradehouse Central Ballincollig leading the way unbeaten in the Men’s Super League.

In the Women’s Super League, Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell and The Address UCC Glanmire are at the summit and UCC Demons are unbeaten in the Men’s Division 1 National League that makes the Christmas spirit on Leeside all that bit more special.

Ciaran O'Sullivan, TradeHouse Central Ballincollig. Pic: Larry Cummins.
Ciaran O'Sullivan, TradeHouse Central Ballincollig. Pic: Larry Cummins.

Christmas is always a loving and charitable period among families and friends but for the basketball clubs in this city the work of volunteers is the foundation for success and survival.

When you look at Neptune the work done by chairman Paul Barrett, Kieran Fitzgerald and Clifford Peyton in doing the table for all their Super League games should be commended.

On top of this, the Blackpool club have their bingo volunteers who ritually help out at their Tuesday weekly session and all should be commended.

It is much the same in Blue Demons where Michael O’Leary, Troy O’Mahony and Anthony Forde are consistently preparing for the Men’s National League games.

At Ballincollig, Colman O’Flynn is chairman of the Super League committee. With the likes of Marita Murphy and the many other volunteers, Ballincollig Community School is always ready for Super League action.

Fr Mathew’s have a quality arena at the Model Farm Road and led by chairman Diarmuid Nolan they cater for two National League teams one in the Women’s Super League and the other in the Men’s Division one.

Credit to all concerned at Fr Mathew’s but I am sure Diarmuid Nolan would welcome more volunteers as it seems the same small group of people carry the huge workload.

Ian Cotter, Ger O’Sullivan and Deirdre McCarthy are also hard-working members but when you have teams from juvenile to Super League keeping the operation going is no mean feat.

Glanmire are one of the most successful clubs in Irish Women’s basketball and at the moment they are striving to regain their former glory days. On match day you are guaranteed to see Connie Allen, Timmy Murphy and Jimmy Roche setting up the gyms at either Upper Glanmire Sports complex or the Mardyke Arena.

New players

Head coach Mark Scannell is fully aware that silverware at underage level has dried up and is on a campaign to recruit new players and coaches to the club.

Brunell basketball club are another large club on Cork’s northside and again Ann O’Halloran, Angelina Myers, Natasha Homan, Jason Thornton and Seán Thornton are members with huge work ethic. I have only named the people I am familiar with but no doubt there are many others.

All the above is about clubs that are competing at Super League level but there is more to clubs than just playing at the top tier of Irish basketball.

The shortage of coaches is another huge problem and although not the ideal situation many parents end up coaching their own children.

C & S Neptune's Roy Downey lays up a basket against DCU Saints. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
C & S Neptune's Roy Downey lays up a basket against DCU Saints. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Basketball is not the only sport struggling for numbers because in modern-day society volunteers are hard to come by.

Let’s spare a thought also for the referees in our sport as it took a major drive in the summer by the Cork Officials Basketball Association to encourage people to get involved in officiating. Like or loathe them, games cannot take place without them and that’s the reality in every sport.

The present pandemic is not helping basketball and all eyes will be on the cup semi-final weekend that is due to take place at the Neptune Stadium and Parochial Hall on January 7-9. In the present regulations, no basketball venue can have players or spectators in their venue after 8pm.

It will be interesting how the Christmas period pans out but it’s crucial for all clubs to keep the health and safety regulations in check.

So in a time for giving and sharing let's spare a thought for all basketball administrators, coaches and volunteers that make it happen for all players on a daily basis.

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