Coach hails team’s work-rate as Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí prepare for U19 final
COLÁISTE Pobail Bheanntraí’s senior boys’ basketball team has developed that handy knack of winning big games.
They were at it again in their U19B All-Ireland Schools Cup semi-final against Coláiste Ide & Iosef Abbeyfeale as they won 67-62 to advance to next Tuesday’s national final.
It was another superb performance from a team that also captured U19C All-Ireland Schools League crown last season.
One of the key reasons for the Bantry school’s success this year is that they lost only two players from their 2017/18 side. Granted, captain Matthew Barry and vice-captain John Endersen were hugely important figures in Pat Curran’s team, but last year’s supporting cast is now centre stage and have taken the added responsibility in their stride. Some of last year’s U16s were promoted to the senior team, swelling its numbers to a squad of 14.
‘A lot went through Matthew and John last season but in fairness, the current group have upped their game and have been fantastic this season,’ Curran says.
Against Abbeyfeale, it was that team effort that saw them hitting the front for the first time inside the final three minutes. Thomas Flynn, Liam Cotter, Sean Brady, captain Shane Murray who scored 23 points and Kevin Clifford were all terrific, while Hugh Fitzgerald, Dylan Clifford and TJ Sullivan all worked hard when they came on.
‘They got into the habit of winning last year and they are hungry for more success,’ Curran explains. ‘We spoke at the start of the year about giving it our all but we never expected to be back in another All-Ireland final when you consider we were playing in the C grade last year.’
From Coláíste Pobail Bheanntraí’s C success last season, they’ve blazed a trail through the B grade and reaching the All-Ireland final means they will campaign in A next season; a superb achievement.
‘As far as I know, it’s never been done, that a team comes up from C and wins B, so we would be the first to do it,’ Curran says. ‘It’s a massive step-up from C to B but the lads have been brilliant. What you would notice is that the scoring is higher and the shooting accuracy is better in B.’
Wins against Glanmire (56-28), Larkin CC (92-67) and now Abbeyfeale mean Bantry will take on Coláiste na Coiribe from Galway in the final at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Tuesday, January 22nd, at 3.30pm. Curran saw them in action in their semi-final win against Coláiste Baile an Chlair.
‘They are a very good team with very skilful players who are very fast,’ he explains.
‘I always feel you need to see your opponents once. It’s hard to go into a final cold, so it was good to go see them and see what they have. You’re able to plan your offence around their defence then.’
Bus loads of Bantry supporters are expected to make the trip to Tallaght to give the home of Irish basketball a distinct West Cork flavour this week, and this current group deserve all that support says Curran.
‘In the quarter-final this season we beat Larkin Community College from Dublin and they had two Irish players playing. That shows how good this team is that we can beat a school with national players,’ he said.
‘Like someone said to me, if we were nearer the capital we would get noticed more than we are and would probably have a few fellas in the Irish set-up.’
Against Larkin, Shane Murray scored 32 points, MVP Liam Cotter hit 20 with Dylan Clifford got 12. More of the same in the All-Ireland final will add another glorious chapter to this ongoing success story.