THE Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí School opened in 2011 after the amalgamation of St Gobans College and Árdscoil Phobail Bheanntraí.
The next year Pa Curran started the basketball program entering two teams into the Cork Leagues. Over the next 11 years the school led by the hard-working and very dedicated Curran, the sport has gone from strength to strength down west and they've won multiple local and national tro.
“We started the basketball program in 2012, with two teams at D Division in the Cork Leagues,” Pa said.
“The following year as the sport started to grow and we entered teams at both boys and girls at all age groups, 1st year, 2nd year, U16 and U19, winning many Basketball Ireland Schools Southern Sections for Cork.
“We made two National Finals appearances on the girls' side, losing the U19 C final in 2015 and the First Year Final in 2019. Pre-Covid we had eight teams but since we started back there is a huge appetite for basketball in the school and now field B teams at all age groups. This gives us a total of 16 teams and in addition to having a have a wheelchair team."
This year the school put in a wheelchair program with the help of Rebel Wheeler player Oisin O’Connor. O'Connor has been on the sidelines with Curran over the years and his passion for the game is surely rubbing off on the players.
"With Rebel Wheeler Oisín O’Connor helping me at the school team games, doing stats during games and giving general feedback. We entered a wheelchair team for the first time this school year and after being blown away by Oisín's passion and performance in the first tournament, I went back to the principal, Marian Carey, and asked her about the possibility of purchasing basketball wheelchairs for the school.
"She was very open to the idea and brought it to the Board of Management, where they were able to secure a grant of about eight thousand euros through Fergal Conlon of West Cork Development and Cork Sports Partnership.
"It kind of stalled then for a few months as we explored where the other €16,000 was going to come from. However, in February I was invited on to the Southern Star Sports Podcast to talk about schools basketball and I mentioned that we were in the process of trying to purchase basketball wheelchairs.
"The day after the podcast aired the school received a phone call with a donor to make up the balance of the money needed. The chairs are due in the next few weeks."
Buoyed by that news the wheelchair team went on to win the Munster Schools Wheelchair Basketball championships by beating St Brendan's of Killarney in the final in Neptune stadium in March.
"Up until last year, I coached all of the boys' teams, but former Bantry and Ballincollig player Aoife Crowne has now started working in the school so she took two teams this year. On the girls' side, Frances Lane has put in a decade of work and continues to do so. Amy Whooley has also put in years of work on the girls side and in years Mairead Dineen has also come on board to coach teams. Without these people giving their free time we would not be able to give our kids the experiences they are having.
“Throughout the years we have been blessed with extremely supportive principals and deputy principals. Kevin Healy and Denis O'Sullivan were there from the beginning and always gave us unwavering support to enter teams and to enjoy their participation. This has been followed up by the current principal Marian Carey and deputy principal Niamh O'Leary, who have been fantastic in promoting and developing our ECA Programmes.
"Extracurricular sports play a crucial role in the overall development of students, fostering a range of skills and values that extend beyond the confines of the classroom. Cork Education and Training Boards has been instrumental in promoting and upholding the ethos and core values associated with extracurricular sports.
"Our biggest goal is to remain competitive and continue improving the culture of basketball at our school.
“Going forward I'm hoping to improve as a coach and the experience of assisting Kieran O'Sullivan with Ballincollig basketball club U18 and U20 teams this season. Being around the club this season has given me a wealth of experience that I can hopefully bring back to my students in Bantry."