BALLINCOLLIG Tradehouse Central have announced a major change ahead of the start of the Super League basketball season this weekend as they operate under the Emporium Cork Basketball moniker from here.
The club want to represent basketball for southsiders in the city and will face northside rivals Energywise Ireland Neptune and UCC Demons in their section of the league in the coming weeks. The draw for the National Cup was made on Tuesday, pitting old foes Neptune and Demons together and Ballincollig with Moycullen, which happen to be the opening league fixtures this Saturday.
The name change in Ballincollig is as a result of a long-standing partnership with the Emporium Company, which is the parent company owner of Tradehouse Central. In addition to this, they are the proprietors of the Castle Inn in Glanmire, JJ Coppinger’s in Midleton and Mabel Lane on the Main Street in Carrigaline, the most recent addition.
Ballincollig Basketball Club’s diverse membership has grown in recent times from under 400 to over 650 people, with 58% male and 42% female.
This is in line with increased participation and interest in basketball nationally as Basketball Ireland have seen memberships increase by 48% in the last number of years as considerable interest in the NBA has seen the popularity of the sport soar. This season they have entered two boys teams in both the U12 and U13 grades for the first time.
Historically in Cork, players who wanted to play Super League basketball felt they had to move to clubs on the northside of the city to play at the highest level. Fr Mathew's, who play in the First Division and are based on the Model Farm Road, also operate south of St Patrick's Bridge.
Five years ago, Ballincollig gave their players the chance to stay with their childhood club when they made the bold step of joining the national league, with the support of the Emporium Company.
The ethos of the team is to be backboned by local players like Dylan Corkery, Colm Blount, Seán O'Flynn and the O'Sullivan brothers, Ciarán and Adrian, and add two pros to be competitive. Last season, the team’s impressive record saw them at 15 wins, with just one loss, which saw them crowned Southern Conference champions. They fell just short in the semi-final of the Super League overall.
Ahead of their upcoming season opener against Moycullen, captain and Irish international Adrian O’Sullivan explained the focus was on further growth and development of the club as well as success on the court in the coming months.
“We are delighted to be playing under the new name of Emporium Cork Basketball this season. We have big ambitions this year and partnering with The Emporium Company and this will enable us to bring Super League basketball to the suburbs of Cork.
"The standard of basketball being played in Cork is now higher than it has ever been, even during the heydays. We are excited to get more people enjoying the sport that we love.
"This will be significant for us as the club and the popularity of the sport continues to grow in Cork and beyond, a regular problem last year was that we needed to turn people away from the door of Ballincollig Community School when they wanted to come and watch games."
Basketball Ireland have invested in online streaming from the basketballireland.tv platform, which is going to increase the reach of the sport for spectators and sponsors.
“For us this year, the season is all about growth.
The opening game of the season takes place at Ballincollig Community School on Saturday at 4pm. Their new overseas recruits are Jose Alberto Jimenez Gonzalez and John Dawson while homegrown Ronan O'Sullivan, Luke O'Sullivan and Jamie Cotter have returned from playing abroad.
For further information on Emporium Cork Basketball and Ballincollig Basketball, visit the website https://ballincolligbasketball.ie/