CORK'S Ciaran O’Sullivan picked up the InsureMyVan.ie Super League Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year award at the Basketball Ireland Awards ceremony in Dublin recently after leading his team Emporium Cork Basketball to their first League title.
The Ballincollig club known to their supporters as the Village went to the Division 1 National League five years ago and after great success at that level, they moved up to the Super League two years ago.
Ciaran moved back to the Village after seven great years with Blue Demons five years ago and took on a player assistant coach role to his uncle Kieran for the first four years, however he took over the role as player head coach last season.
After going through the previous season with only one loss in the regular season, they lost out to Neptune in the semi final League play-off.
This season they learned from the previous campaign and didn’t put their eggs in one basket and as once they knew they were qualified for this year's play-offs, Ciaran and his assistant Daniel O’Sullivan were able to experiment with different rotations and situations on both sides of the floor in games.
“I came back to the club were I played all my underage basketball five years ago from a glorious and successful time at Blue Demons," Ciaran said.
“I have to say that both my brother Adrian and myself were treated very well at Demons on and off the court.
"Although we had a wonderful experience winning multiple trophies it was the friends we made along the way that means so much to me.
"I learned so much from the coaches and my teammates and I honestly think the experience from that time has stood to me as a coach.
“I decided to come back to the club I played for most of my life when they decided they were going to put a team into the Division One National League.
"My uncle Kieran was the head coach and he asked me would I help out in the practices and with some of the game plans.
"I immediately jumped at the chance to test myself at that level and although it was difficult at times we had great success winning three National Cups and the League in the third year.
“This year Kieran took the decision to step back to concentrate on coaching the next generation of young players coming through our club.
"I soon got the player I played since I started out playing with the club, Daniel O’Sullivan, to help me out as assistant coach.
"He was brilliant all season, as when I was on court I knew I could trust him with making the decisions on the line.
“The player-coach role can be very difficult as when you're on the court it is very hard to concentrate to playing and I think it took away from my usual game at times.
"I had to look back to when Colin O’Reilly did it with Demons and Neptune, however, I wouldn’t have been an elite player like Colin as he was always the best player on the teams he played for, my role was much different.
"To give the lad’s credit they put their heads down and brought in to everything both Daniel and myself done coming down the stretch this season.
"When the play-offs arrived I knew we were ready to play as our practices became more competitive.
"Going into the final against Maree, I took advice from my father Francis, Kieran and older coaches who I used to reach out to during the season and the big message they told me was, all you can do is your best, enjoy the game and whatever happens the team has improved again this year.
"These words of advice were vital and we reminded the players that before the game.
“Before the season started my wife Claire has baby Emma and it was a learning curve for both of us as we were both playing and I want to thank my mum Grace and my mother-in-law Mary, as without their help we couldn’t have done what we did this season."