Disappointment over cancellation of men’s basketball leagues

By Stephen Leonard

SUPER League coaches Mark Keenan of Griffith College Templeogue and DBS Éanna’s Darren McGovern have voiced their disappointment over last weekend’s announce-ment by Basketball Ireland Men’s National Compet-itions Committee that it was cancelling the 2020/21 Super League and Division One league season.

It had been hoped that competition would start behind closed doors on the new date of January 9, but, following a meeting on Saturday morning to consider the most recent Covid 19 guidelines, it transpired that this will not be feasible.

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DBS Éanna Head Coach Darren McGovern says the cancellation of the league is a huge blow to his team and club

The statement by Basketball Ireland read 'The Basketball Ireland Men’s National Competitions Committee (MNCC) has decided it has no alternative but to cancel the 2020/21 Super League and Division One league season.

'No decision has been made over the 2020/21 Men’s National Cup.

'The MNCC is extremely disappointed that its case for commencement of play in the National Leagues on January 9th behind closed doors, with extra rigorous testing in place, has not been considered properly.

'It is felt that fair play and consultation has not happened and we can only conclude that we are not trusted to act in a safe and responsible manner.

'We note that many national basketball leagues are taking place throughout Europe with the agreement of the government and health authorities in those countries.

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DBS Éanna Head Coach Darren McGovern says the cancellation of the league is a huge blow to his team and club

'Our clubs have commercial commitments as a semi-professional league and cannot be left in uncertainty any longer.’

For DBS Éanna head coach McGovern, the cancellation of the league season represents a massive blow for his team and the club.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the season could have been run off safely” he told The Echo.

“You look around Europe, and all the countries are running their basketball seasons safely, some even down to Division Three, except for us.

“We’re the biggest indoor sport in the country and it’s that failure to listen to us. It feels like a real slap in the face.

“We’re now losing kids and adults to other sports. I know some people might say ‘they’ll come back when this is all over’, but they won’t.

“Kids make new friendships and they won’t want to move and that’s been really damaging to our sport.

“I know we spent 10 grand getting ready for the new season and how are we going to recoup that? Ten grand for a club like ours is huge” he said.

Griffith College Templeogue Head Coach Mark Keenan echoed these sentiments saying “I have to say I’m very disappointed with the announcement.

“I know our team manager Fiona has had meetings with other clubs discussing getting back to playing basketball, but to hear that after the Men’s National Competitions Committee had a meeting on Saturday, it is very disappointing.

“I know we are an indoor sport and that’s the real crux of the matter, but you look at other countries around Europe and they’ve managed to keep playing their [basketball] leagues.

“Another thing too is that I’m the Ireland men’s team coach and we’re meant to be hosting the European Championships [for Small Countries] next year.

“I’d be concerned now about whether or not that’s going to happen when FIBA see that we can’t even run our domestic league. It’s certainly not good for the team if the players aren’t playing competitive basketball” he added.

Meanwhile Dublin Lions Head Coach Rob White remains more upbeat about the weekend announce-ment by Basketball Ireland saying “While it is disappointing that we won’t have a season, I’m genuinely happy they made a call on it.

“There was no point in us hoping to get the season going and then wondering if they’ll continue to run it or not, when we don’t even have a vaccine.

“They’re asking everyone to wear masks indoors so I don’t know how it could have worked especially when players are not being tested regularly.

“I’ve had my differences with Basketball Ireland in the past, but I have been very impressed with how they’ve handled all of this now.

“A least now we can plan for the new season because I feel there’s a very good chance that we’ll be back in September” he said.

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