Cork basketball thriving underage with Billy Kelly Tournament to showcase the best U17s from across the country

John Coughlan hails the great work going in underage, reflected at the other end with five of the 12-man Ireland squad coming from Cork
Cork basketball thriving underage with Billy Kelly Tournament to showcase the best U17s from across the country

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Andre Nation enjoys a lighter moment as he joins the supporters during a break gainst Moycullen. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IT was a low key weekend in the Women’s Super League for sides like The Address UCC Glanmire and Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell as their games were played in midweek.

However, Fr Mathew’s returned to winning ways with a win over basement side IT Carlow who travelled to play with six players for this fixture.

At this present time, basketball is all about quantity and not quality and that’s not just in the Women’s Super League but throughout this country.

When we are talking about quantity let's praise the efforts of the Cork County Board who will hosting the annual Billy Kelly National tournament across three venues (Parochial Hall, Neptune Stadium, Fr Mathew’s Arena) on April 15-16.

A total of 40 teams will compete ironically in its 40th year and amazingly 74 games will be played over a hectic weekend.

For many years the late Billy Coffey drove this tournament and it now ranks as the biggest in Irish basketball and in the coming weeks I will have some more details on this magnificent weekend.

Having 40 teams at U17 level shows the sport is thriving underage, even if we have teams competing at national league level with no structures or underage programmes.

Fr Mathew's Super League team with young basketball fans after a recent victory.
Fr Mathew's Super League team with young basketball fans after a recent victory.

It was a great weekend for C & S Neptune as they guaranteed themselves a place in the forthcoming play-offs with a comfortable win over Killorglin.

It was also a good week for the Cork side as both Roy Downey and Cian Heaphy in the Ireland squad to face Switzerland Cyprus. In Downey's case, he has been the form point guard all season and coach Mark Keenan had to give him a chance. Downey is a warrior for his club and he certainly will not be out of place.

For teammate Cian Heaphy it has also been a terrific season as the Neptune player has blossomed under player-coach Colin O’Reilly. Before this season his weakness was his shooting but that’s been addressed to his credit.

The athleticism of Heaphy is frightening and his dunk on the Tralee Bosman Niko Rosa in the National Cup final was captured by Sportsfile photographer Brendan Moran and will certainly go into the annuals of Irish Basketball.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig’s captain Adrian O’Sullivan is also part of the squad again and his form this season has been consistent with his team having a magnificent season. After taking in numerous Ballincollig games, the one trait that sticks out for me with O’Sullivan is his defence and his ability to rebound, something he does better than any guard in this country.

UNLUCKY

The same could be said of his teammate Dylan Corkery who will feel unlucky to be omitted but is young enough to bounce back.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Dylan Corkery lays up a basket from Moycullen's Eoghan Kelly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Dylan Corkery lays up a basket from Moycullen's Eoghan Kelly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

UCC Demons ace Kyle Hosford will captain the team and despite a niggling knee injury he drove his team to the President’s Cup.

The fourth Cork member to make the cut is Jordan Blount who is playing professional basketball in Iceland with UMF Sindri Hofn. Blount who started his basketball career with Neptune has certainly made huge strides.

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