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Dean Flynn, Secretary of Shannon Jets Basketball Club. Photograph by John Kelly

Hoop dreams alive and well in Clare town

THE sport of basketball is thriving in Shannon, with numbers playing increasing very significantly during the pandemic, writes Owen Ryan.

When he spoke to the Champion last Friday Shannon Jets club secretary Dean Flynn was waiting to see what restrictions were going to be retained, following the Government’s decision not to go for a full relaxation of them last week.

Dean said that basketball has been quite heavily disrupted due to Covid. “Last year we were about to start the season when the October/November lockdown kicked in and the season ended up getting cancelled, so we’ve been a year without basketball really.

“During the summer we were allowed to train, but only outdoors. Most of our groups started up in the middle of May and we had outdoor training through the summer.

“The schools in Shannon were really good to us, they gave us the use of their facilities with no cost. That was brilliant, we had loads of underage basketball during May and June and for certain ages it was all summer.

“For the past month or so we have been allowed to go back indoors, but it’s restricted training with pods of six, except in certain scenarios, you’re allowed to play a competitive training match, it’s a bit complicated!”

Outlining the teams the club has, Dean says, “We start with under eights and there are very big groups at under eight and under ten.

“They don’t play in a league, just get together to train in basic basketball skills once a week. When we go up to under 12 there are two boys teams and a girls team that compete in the Clare league. Under 14, we have one boys and one girls team in the Clare league, there’s an under 16 boys team in the Clare league.

“We have our senior men’s team, and a kind of a younger adult team, and both play in the Limerick league, one in division one and one in division two.”

While there isn’t an adult women’s team, they are hoping that might happen in the near future.

“We just started a Basketball Ireland initiative for social basketball, it just started last week, it’s called Socia-ball, a women’s group come together to scrimmage once a week. They don’t compete in a league as yet, we’d love to have that, and hopefully it might happen next year.”

There is a lot of people playing the game in Shannon now, he says.

“We’ve had huge growth. We have about 250 active members now and prior to Covid we only had 80 or 90, so it has tripled.

“When we opened up back in May for those outdoor sessions we were blown away by the amount of people coming down. It was fantastic. Basketball is really growing all over the country, a lot of clubs are also seeing the same thing.”

Fundraising is always a challenge, but they’ve had quite a good 2021 in that sense.

“We were lucky this year, we got a great grant for Texaco. Texaco did this Support for Sport initiative where they gave €5,000 to one club in every county and we were lucky enough to be the one in Clare that got it.

“It was a huge help and it enabled us to get a lot of equipment for the outdoor training. Every year we look for sponsorship, but the vast majority of the club costs are funded by parents, it costs between €15,000 and €20,000 to run the club for the year.”

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