Local basketball clubs dealing with fallout from season cancellation

By Caitlin Rundle

LOCAL basketball clubs have been processing the recent announcements by the Dublin Men’s and Ladies Boards and Basketball Ireland regarding the cancellation of the 2020-21 season and are concerned the effects of this will be deeply felt.

The sport was dealt another major blow last week when both boards felt compelled to scrap the season following the extension of Government restrictions until March.

Basketball Press release Image 1 1

Basketball Ireland have made the call to scrap the season

Head coach of Dublin Lions Men’s National League side, Rob White, said he thought the decision took longer to make than he expected, and expressed concerns for his players and the club going forward.

“I know the biggest thing we’re all worried about is mental health for everybody.

“It’s very difficult to kind of constantly be in touch in a group sense, so we just try to keep it individual and catch up with people at different times.

“The main worry I have if we go back too early, it’s like, from my point of view, it’s kind of like coming back from an injury. If we rush back into it, we could have another lockdown, and I think that would be pointless.”

Assistant coach of the Templeogue Men's Super League team, John Walsh said that, though the decision was expected, it was still disappointing.

“I think we didn’t hold out much hope for it going ahead. We’ve been trying to keep the underage programme in particular going since last September, training outdoors and where we could, but once Level 5 came in, all that had to stop.”

Looking at how the massive delay to a return to action could affect the sport in Ireland,  Walsh said “At the younger ages, where kids might be choosing between a few different sports, might be choosing between football, gaelic, rugby, and because I think the outdoor sports might go back first, there’s always a worry that we could lose some underage players to that.

“We have our gym and stuff and no one else uses it, so if they even lift the restrictions so that we can maybe get a certain number of people practicing at one time.

“The younger players can still get out and run around, the older ones tend to shoot while they’re waiting for the gyms to open, so they’re the ones who are on the sofa longer I think.”

“The best hope going forward is that if we can reduce back down to Level 3, we’d be getting them back outdoors, playing again. I think we’re probably a few more months away from getting back indoors” he admitted.

Speaking after the season cancellation, Oblate Dynamos Senior Ladies Head Coach, Terry Staunton, did say that there was a sense of relief now that a decision had finally been made.

“The not knowing was harder than when they finally made the call,” he said.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in the background, fixtures, arranging games and times and making sure gyms are available, so up until we made the decision, when he finally said it's not going to go ahead, there were still a lot of people working behind the scenes for no apparent reason.

“A lot of work involved for something that was inevitably going to be cancelled,” Staunton said.

Basketball Ireland are hoping that an easing of Government restrictions will be allowed soon enough to allow Irish international sides resume training and preparations ahead of their FIBA European Championships in June and July.

Basketball Ireland Secretary General, Bernard O’Byrne said that “while this is disappointing to announce the end of our normal 2020/21 season, we hold out hope that we can get some competitive basketball underway during the summer months.

“Our target is now to open the 2021/22 season as normal in September, across all levels and all competitions.”

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