A FIRST Super League title for Emporium Cork Basketball in just their second season at the top level.
An incredible achievement for the Ballincollig club and player-coach Ciarán O’Sullivan, who shared the special victory in Tallaght with his brother, and team captain, Adrian and cousin Ronan.
“We’re all in a bit of shock as six years ago we were in the third tier, our top team in the club was playing in the local league in Cork.
“This is our second year at this level and to be at the top of the pile is amazing and I cannot really put it into words at the moment, the scenes there at the end were just special, euphoric, emotional you know.
“These guys are playing for more than just themselves, a few guys lost family members during the year and we just got that emotion right today and we feel that we had the talent to match anyone and look we are here.”
O’Sullivan had to head off to a wedding after the victory, where his brother-in-law Eoin Rockall, the Maree captain who missed the game, had acted as best man.
Another man who made a huge contribution for Ballincollig for a number of years was assistant coach Daniel O’Sullivan, who came through the underage ranks alongside Ciarán.
“We felt coming into the play-offs that we were better than a fourth-seeded team as some of the losses were two-point games but our quarter-final win at Eanna changed the mindset of the squad,” said Daniel.
“A trip to play Demons in the semi-final was never going to be easy but our defence in recent weeks has really improved us.”
Many were predicting a win for Maree, who had already collected a first National Cup and only lost three times in the regular league, but the Ballincollig Community School teacher felt deep down they knew it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
We found a new identity in defence and we had the size so credit to Ciarán he put his plan together and in the end we looked comfortable.
“Stopping Jarrett Haines in transition was key to our win and once we competed hard on the boards we were always going to pose them problems.”
It has been a mixed season for American John Dawson at times but he definitely kept his best until last with an MVP display.
“John is a super guy and a super player and he proved on the biggest stage of all that he’s one to be reckoned with.
“Many thanks to the wonderful supporters that travelled here to be part of this great occasion.”
University of Galway Maree head coach Charlie Crowley although very disappointed still found time to praise the winners.
“Let’s get the record straight, I’m not going to stand here and want people to pity us because we lost to a Ballincollig that are a great team and we’ve been beaten by them on the day.
“I thought we started well and then we began fatiguing but a lot of that will probably be down on me when I start looking back at the game, but you know they were great.
“Ciarán (O’Sullivan) and John Dawson hit big shots as the American showed his quality but the last time we played Emporium Cork Basketball, we held him to two and this time you flip the script and they win by 14.”
Ballincollig celebrated their successful season over the weekend in the Village, capping off an incredible run since they made the step up to National League level just five seasons ago.