Bantry school closes in on All-Ireland basketball glory

Coláiste Phobail Bheanntraí coach Pa Curran has guided his junior and senior teams to national finals in Tallaght
Bantry school closes in on All-Ireland basketball glory

Bantry basketball: Charlie Curran taking a screen from Paddy Russell in a recent schools game.

WEST Cork school Coláiste Phobail Bheanntraí’s double All-Ireland final appearance this Thursday highlights the growth of Irish basketball across the country.

The Bantry school feature in the U16 and U19 Pinergy All-Ireland Schools Cup B deciders at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.

The U16s will compete against Coláiste Muire Máthair of Galway and the U19s against Moyle Park of Dublin. It’s a fantastic achievement for Bantry, who now have 16 boys and girls basketball teams, up there with any school in Cork.

Pa Curran, teacher and coach of both teams is looking forward to what will be a great occasion with a huge crowd travelling up from West Cork.

"It's a fantastic achievement for the school to get to not only one but two National Cup finals in the same year, most schools could be waiting 10 years to get to one but we've somehow managed to get to two on the same day. 

We're all really looking forward to it and it's generating a lot of interest in the local community."

They played in the Basketball Ireland C Grade since 2013. After a number of South Region Championship triumphs the U19 team finally landed an All-Ireland in 2018. Despite winning B Championships in all age groups the evasive All-Ireland title at that level has yet to be captured making Thursday’s two final appearances all the more exciting.

HARD WORK

Both teams have been putting the work in before the final, according to Curran.

“Preparations since the semi-final have been fantastic. We trained during the holidays and since. We went to Ballincollig on Wednesday for a really worthwhile practice game against Ballincollig Basketball Club.” 

The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí senior team that reached the Pinenergy Schools final with coach Pat Curran.
The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí senior team that reached the Pinenergy Schools final with coach Pat Curran.

Sport is truly thriving in the school. Bantry continues to make strides in all areas and created history last Thursday by securing a first-ever Rugby Munster Senior Schools Cup win, thanks to a last-gasp try from Michael O’Donovan against Glenstal Abbey.

The U16 hurling team recently came up short in clash against Naomh Muire while the U16.5 camogie team had a great win against MICC before Christmas.

Wheelchair basketball is also represented in the school. “We have Óisín O’Connor playing for the Rebel Wheelers. He has a cup final in Tallaght this Friday night, after making his senior debut recently, which is a great achievement.” 

 

The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí junior team.
The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí junior team.

The U16s have had some excellent wins during the season, beating Coláiste Íde agus Iosef in the quarter-final, and Pres de La Salle in the semi.

The talented squad is made up of seven players, including Bantry club basketballer James Murphy. Star backcourt duo Jack Phillips and Charlie Curran, who both play club basketball with Ballincollig, are key offensive players and their efforts will be vital in Tallaght.

Jack Phillips on the move.
Jack Phillips on the move.

The senior team, having beaten Dingle, Coláiste Íde agus Iosef and Pres de La Salle will be full of confidence heading into their clash with Moyle Park of Dublin as they look to make school history.

Captain Mark O’Sullivan, Cian Keohane, Ethan Hanley, Eoghan O'Donoghue and Guido Toniolo have been essential to the team’s success so far this season. U16 players Charlie Curran and Jack Phillips have had a huge impact off the bench in every game.

The team has shown incredible resilience this year, coming back from an early 12-point deficit in the last-16 game against Dingle to win by five in front of a packed home gym. They once more faced a tall task in the semi-final, trailing by 11, but managed to win again by five after a change in defensive strategy at half-time.

This would be a well-deserved title for the U19s. As coach Pa Curran: explained "The bones of the senior team have been together since first year and made it to the All-Ireland Schools League final in their first attempt. Covid robbed them of two seasons so it's great that they have come back and again been competitive. With each one of them back in school again next year it bodes well for the future.” 

Guido Toniolo on the ball with Ronan O'Sullivan in support.
Guido Toniolo on the ball with Ronan O'Sullivan in support.

U16 Team: 

Cathal McCarthy, Jack Gibbons, Paddy Russell, Charlie Curran, James Keane, Jack Phillips, James Murphy.

U19 Team: 

Mark O'Sullivan, Cian Keohane, Ethan Hanley, Eoghan O'Donoghue, Guido Toniolo, Charlie Curran, Ronan O'Sullivan, Jack Phillips, Shane Murnane.

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