Basketball buzz gets louder in Bantry
COLAISTE Pobail Bheanntrai senior boys basketball team recently secured their All-Ireland semi-final berth following thrilling play-off victories.
The Bantry secondary school basketball team are scheduled to play Longford team Mercy Ballymahon on Friday, February 9th in the National Basketball Arena.
Their proud coach Pat Curran is thrilled with their cup odyssey this season.
“It is a fantastic achievement. “This is the furthest we have reached in boy’s basketball since opening our doors in 2011.
“We’ve had great teams down through the last seven years, but I feel this is the most balanced team I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching.
“We got to an All-Ireland in girls in 2015 and just lost out by two points, so the school has had that experience so we know what to expect,” declared their dedicated coach.
Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai defeated Waterpark and Colmcilles respectively to secure their place in the last four of the All-Ireland Schools’ Cup.
Pat is thrilled with the support his players are receiving at present.
“It was a fantastic day for the school and most of all the players.
“There’s a huge buzz about basketball at the moment in Bantry.
“We saw extended families and many local people who have no connection to the school turning up and giving fierce support to the team.
“The hall was full. I honestly believe that it was the support that got us over the line and we’ve our fantastic community here to thank for that.
“The two wins were great. We had to work ever so hard to defeat two very strong teams.”
Pat revealed that their spectacular progress this season has been three seasons in the making.
He praised his players for their dedication which has propelled them to the cusp of Al-Ireland glory.
“We’ve been training for this very season for three years.
“We sat down after losing a playoff in Tipperary three years ago, had a chat about making sure all of the team did Transition Year, came up with a training plan and targeted 2018 to win the Southern Schools Section, Schools All-Ireland, club league and club top four championship.
“We’ve won the Southern schools section, are in an All Ireland semifinal, top of the club league which will qualify us for the top four championship so we are well within reach of our goals.
“We train two mornings and two evenings a week.
“The work ethic is phenomenal from player one to player twelve.
“They all spur each other on and that’s why they have all improved so much.
“I’ve been coaching sports teams for close to 20 years, in GAA soccer, basketball, amateurs and professionals, but I’ve never coached a team as talented, grounded and as balanced as this.
“It’s a really tight group and I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to coach them.”
Pat is eagerly looking forward to leading his side into action in the National Basketball Arena.
He insists his side are ready to make the most of this golden opportunity.
“It is a fantastic achievement to reach the semi-final stages, but we want to go another round.
“We’re absolutely determined to win it. The lads trained the morning after the games against Waterpark and Knocklyon.
“Nobody was really talking about how great it was to make it this far.
“They are determined to keep winning. It will be great for the players to play in such a great stadium.
“The court is different, the baskets are different, the atmosphere is brilliant.
“Having gone through an All-Ireland final up there in 2015, I think I know what to expect and that will hopefully help the lads.”
Bantry has always produced a host of talented basketball players through the years.
Pat is delighted to ensure the tradition still lives on strongly today.
“Huge tradition of basketball in Bantry going right back to the 1950’s.
“Christy O’Neill kept it going very successfully for years along with a few very willing parents but it took a dip when Christy left.
“It probably would have died after that only for the present committee working so hard to keep it alive.
“Mary Kelleher and Sandra Cronin are the backbone of our club and their efforts along with the help of many more are the reason it has come to be the strongest it has ever been.
“Right now we have a huge cohort of people helping out in the club which is fantastic.
“We are going to run a course at the end of the season for parents of younger children to give them the fundamentals of coaching basketball to increase our numbers further.”
The success of the Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai senior boys team is also helping to attract more players to the game within the school, which greatly pleases the basketball enthusiast.
“I absolutely live for
“It’s a fantastic sport to have kids involved in because it really teaches them discipline and teamwork.
“When you lose the ball you have no choice but to defend.
“We have eight teams in total. “The first and second year teams start playing in February and we’ve had a massive turnout so far.
“Everyone wants to be like the older team and that is great to see.
“It also makes the younger ones easier to deal with, when they see the level that the senior team is at.
“They are willing to listen.” it to be honest.
Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai senior basketball team, who have reached the All-Ireland semi-final.
Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí are scheduled to play Longford team Mercy Ballymahon next Friday in the National Basketball Arena.