Basketball buzz gets louder in Bantry

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - John Bo­hane

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.

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