MNCC ANNOUNCE LEAGUE EXPANSION

MNCC ANNOUNCE LEAGUE EXPANSION

  • May 04,2016
Basketball Ireland has announced further expansion to its National League with the addition of four men’s teams for the 2016-17 season. A team from Tralee will compete in the top tier of Irish basketball for the first time since 2009 while Dublin side KUBS have granted promotion from the Men’s Division One. 

Tralee’s return to National League basketball brings with it one of Ireland’s best known basketball players. Tralee Town BC is a collaboration between local clubs Tralee Imperials and 2016 Hula Hoops Men’s National Intermediate Cup Champions St. Brendan’s. Kieran Donaghy was MVP in the final in January and Tralee Town BC Vice Chairman John Dowling has confirmed that the three-time GAA All Star will be on the roster for their maiden season. 

“There’s a huge buzz around with Kieran coming back,” said Dowling. “It wouldn’t have been possible to make the step up without both clubs working together and people feel like this is going to be a team for the town of Tralee.” 

The club has also confirmed that Mark Bernsen will be returning to Kerry as Head Coach. The American won the Men’s Superleague with Abrakebabra Tralee Tigers in 2008 to cap a run of four national titles in five years for the club. 

Sligo All Stars return to Men’s Division One for the first time since 2009 where they will be joined by a Dublin Lions side taking their first foray into National League basketball. A Letterkenny based team will also enter for the first. LYIT will draw from clubs across Donegal and surrounds and compete under Head Coach Niall McDermott. 

“You’ve got to give a focal point to your players as something to aspire to,” said the Derry man. No one club in the region could take on this challenge, so it’s more like an all-county team in many respects.” 

Men’s National League Teams 2016-17 (24): Belfast Star, BFG Neptune, C&S Blue Demons, C&S UCC Demons, DCU Saints, Dublin Lions, Eanna, Fr. Mathews, GCD Swords Thunder, ITC Basketball, JM&L Auctioneers Titans, Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin, Kestrels, KUBS, LYIT, Maree BC, Pyrobel Killester, Sligo All Stars, SSE Airtricity Moycullen, Team Kilkenny, Templeogue, Tralee Town BC, UCD Marian, UL Eagles.

KUBS:
KUBS have been granted entry to the top tier on the back of a debut national league season which saw them finish runners up in the regular season and claim the League Cup trophy in the post-season. As the club enters it’s tenth year, KUBS captain Conor James is excited about a new challenge: “Our first season in Division One was a really good experience and I think it says a lot about the standard that we feel ready to make the step up. We’ll need to definitely raise our game though.”

Tralee Town BC:
Tralee’s return to National League basketball brings with it one of Ireland’s best known basketball players. Tralee Town BC are a collaboration between local clubs Tralee Imperials and 2016 Hula Hoops Men’s National Intermediate Cup Champions St. Brendan’s. Kieran Donaghy was MVP in the final in January and Tralee Town BC Vice Chairman John Dowling has confirmed that the three-time GAA All Star will be on the roster for their maiden season. 

 “There’s a huge buzz around with Kieran coming back,” said Dowling. “It wouldn’t have been possible to make the step up without both clubs working together and people feel like this is going to be a team for the town of Tralee.” 

The club have also confirmed that Mark Bernsen will be returning to Kerry as Head Coach. The American won the Men’s Superleague with Abrakebabra Tralee Tigers in 2008 to cap a run of four national titles in five years for the club. 

In addition to a number of players who can bridge the gap to the last Tralee sides in the National League, the move will also allow the next generation to compete in an elite set up in Kerry. Ryan Leonard was a leading light for Ireland at the U18 European Championships in 2015 while Mike O’Donnell is currently training with the Ireland U20 squad. 

The announcement brings Kerry’s representation in the Basketball Ireland National League to four teams. Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin finished third in their debut season in Men’s Division One while Team Garvey’s Tralee and Team Denjoes’ American style both reached the playoffs in Women’s Division One. 

Sligo All-Stars: 
Sligo All Stars return to the National League having been a feature since the club’s foundation in 1965. They spent five seasons in the SuperLeague in the 1980’s and remained at National level until 2008. Sligo’s first All-Ireland title came in 1972 while in recent times they beat Longford Falcons to take the Senior Men’s Cup title in 2006. 

Club Chairperson Paul Clarke felt there was one major reason why the hiatus was required soon after. “At the last time we had no underage structure so we started rebuilding,” said Clarke. “Now we can build a team around the players who were just getting involved at that time. We have 240 current members from ages five and up. It’s given us some stability both financially and from a player perspective. We’ll still have to recruit players and a coach and it’s going to be a busy summer, but there’s great excitement.” 

National League basketball now becomes a realistic goal for Sligo’s emerging talent. Summerhill College won the All-Ireland U16A Schools Cup in 2015 with players like Oisin O’Reilly who has recently been named in the Ireland U18 Men’s Squad to compete at the 2016 European Championships.  

Sligo All Stars also put together a solid campaign in the 2016 Hula Hoops U20 Men’s National Cup. They reached the quarter-finals thanks to wins over KCYMS of Kerry and Titans of Galway before falling to eventual winners Neptune BC. Cian Lally scored an incredible 53 points in the last 16 to show the potential of group of players including Philip Hamilton, Mark Chambers and Toby Brockmann who won the All Ireland Club Championships at U16 level in 2013. 

Mercy College will once continue as the home for the club. Former National League players such as Glen Monaghan and Shane O’Meara are set to stay on as coaches and administrators. 


Dublin Lions:
For Dublin Lions, it will be a first foray into National League basketball. The club will be based in Colaiste Bhríde in Clondalkin and continue to build on a history which saw Clondalkin Lakers, Lucan BC and Rathcoole Rockets amalgamate in 1989. For Chairman Michael White, it’s a chance for the ‘Dublin Blue’ of the Lions to grace the biggest stage: “We’ve been very competitive in the Dublin Men’s League for the last couple of seasons and we’re thrilled to have been accepted to Division One. I was a founder member of Templeogue BC back in 1976 and they’ve made the step up to National League in a big way so it’s fantastic.” The club have 23 active teams with plans to grow to 28 for next season. 
LYIT:
LYIT’s addition to the Men’s National League to 24 teams. The largest previous entry was in 1986-87 when 27 clubs competed across three divisions. 30 years later. It’s the latest boost to basketball in the north-west after the appointment of Niall McDermott as Regional Development Officer. McDermott will serve as Head Coach for the side in it’s maiden year and believes the reasons for entering a National League are as strong as they were 30 years ago. 

“You’ve got to give a focal point to your players as something to aspire to,” he said. We have the facilities here in LYIT and the college are really keen to promote sport in the local community. No one club in the region could take on this challenge, so it’s more like an all-county team in many respects.” The club will draw on players from Letterkenny Blaze, Donegal Town, Donegal Nets and beyond to North Star and Omagh Thunder. 

Colaiste Choilmcille Ballyshannon, Glenties Comprehensive, Colaiste Ailigh Letterkenny and St. Eunan’s College Letterkenny have all reached All-Ireland Schools Cup finals in the last five years while Letterkenny Blaze went on an incredible cup run to reach the U18 Men’s National Cup final in 2014. 

“There are players here who are already National League ready as well and it’s great to give them a platform in the North West,” said McDermott. Underage Internationals Jordan McClellan and Ryan Whoriskey will join the set up as well as former National League players Paul McHugh and brothers Dylan and Ryan Muldoon. Donegal’s last exposure to National League basketball was in the 2012/2013 season when Donegal entered Senior Men’s and Women’s teams into the second tier. 

New Structure:
Basketball Ireland are expected to announce a rebranding and restructuring of the National League in the coming weeks. The new formats will reflect the growth and confidence in Irish club basketball’s present and future. 



 



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