Team Left Bank Kilkenny stepped in with the big boys in the National Basketball League this season, and while they didn’t end up with any silverware, they can look back on a series of high achievements.
During the past two seasons Team Left Bank won the South Eastern League and cup, the Midlands League and cup and the coveted St Brendan’s Tralee tournament. It was time for another challenge at a higher level.
Neighbours Waterford Vikings were doing okay in the National League, but they struggled to get committed players of the required quality. The logical thing to do was to combine both clubs to represent the South Eastern County Board in the men’s Division 1 National Basketball League.
Preparations started with training at the end of June 2011. The squad was finely tuned for what turned out to be an excellent season, featuring many highs and a number of lows.
The season started with two excellent wins on the road, in Cork against Neptune and Blue Demons. Team Left Bank were brought crashing back to earth when they suffered a 30 point loss against title contenders Ballon in a packed O’Loughlin Gaels centre, Kilkenny.
Next up were the much fancied Maree of Galway. They stuck with Team Left Bank up to the final quarter, but they were unable to match them in the final quarter.
This was the point in the season when the squad realised that they could be up there with the best of the teams. This game was followed by one of the high points, a thrilling one point win against Killester in Dublin in the National Cup quarter-final. The last shot of the game securing victory.
The team would go on to be beaten by eventual winners, Dublin Thunder in the National Cup semi-final.
In terms of stinging performances, two games stuck out. The first was a one point loss against Castleisland in the O’Loughlin Gaels centre, and most recently a one point loss against Galway Titans in the play-offs.
Both games could have ended in victory had Team Left Bank enjoyed a friendlier roll of the basketball. Castleisland and Titans are two of the top teams at national level over the past number of years. The fact that Team Left Bank were able to compete strongly against them in season one was very encouraging.
The biggest achievement for the newcomers was perhaps winning back the crowds and attracting people back to watching basketball matches in Kilkenny. Those who attended most games in the O’Loughlin Gaels centre were treated to exciting, tough, nail biting fare.
Hopefully this support will continue when the team kicks off the next campaign in the National League. The officials with Team Left Bank thanked all the supporters, and also sponsors Left Bank on The Parade for their continued support throughout the year.
The aim next season will be to do even better.
Team coach - Julian O’Keeffe (senior); assistant coach - Damien Brett; team manager - Theresa Walsh; statistics - Susan Kelly.
Team Left Bank Kilkenny squad - Dean Kavanagh (captain), Julian O’Keeffe (junior), Philip Brennan, Enda Roberts, James Butler, Andy Piper, Padraig Morrissey, Damien Brett, Eugene Walsh, David Clerkin, Brian Hogan, Liam O’Shaughnessy, Joe Malone, Tommy O’Mahony, Lughaidh O’Neill.