Club History

St Colms Basketball Club is Limerick's oldest and most successful club. The club was founded in 1965 by Paddy O' Flynn, a teacher at St Munchin's primary boys school situated at Hassett's Cross, Limerick. The club initially catered for boys from the adjacent housing estates of Ballynanty, Kileely, Thomondgate and Mayorstone.


The club achieved early success under the astute coaching of Paddy O' Flynn. Having started playing basketball in class leagues in primary school, the majority of the boys continued to play basketball when they moved to Ardscoil Ris. Paddy O' Flynn continued to coach the school sides and in 1968/1969, Ardscoil Ris (comprising of all St Colms players) won the Munster U18 seniors schools title. The school was to win a further Munster U18 title in 1975/1976 with the team again comprised of St Colms players and coached by Gerry Campbell.


In the late sixties, Fergus Reynolds became the first club player to be selected on the Irish Schools international team at under 15 level. He was quickly followed by Cyril O' Regan, who also gained a number of caps at under 18 level. In all, nine club members have won international school caps to date.


Boosted by the success of the boys' teams, Paddy O' Flynn then founded a girls team which attracted such promising players as Delia Hayes, Noreen Bourke, Jean Lennon, twins Mary and Anne Bourke, Mary Casey and a host of fine players who developed their skills in the Presentation Convent, Sexton Street, Limerick. St Colms still have a strong connection with the Presentation to this day and we have availed of the convent gymnasium for games and training sessions since it was first built. In 1970, this team went on to win the Limerick ladies senior league, the George perpetual cup and the Bernie Mastervision trophy for winning the Munster club final.


In 1973, St Colms won its first major trophy. That year our men's team won the Munster Junior Championship. The club was to win this title again in 1974 and 1975 dominating the junior ranks during those seasons.


1975 was to prove to be one of the club's most successful years to date. The girls A team won the County Senior League going through the season unbeaten and then defeating N.C.P.E. in the League Final on a scoreline of 38-23. The girls B team won the Limerick Savings Bank League.


While the St Colms girls were winning all before them in 1975, the men were not to be outdone. Both the boys U17 and U19 teams won the local league titles. In the senior ranks, the mens A team captured the Handicap league while the B team won the Division two league.


Encouraged by the coaching talents of Des Bourke, Gerry Campbell and Tom Carr, St Colms continued to prosper, with Seamus Woods and Marian Clarke soon to develop into two of the most promising under age players in the country of the early 1970's.


The formation of the National League in 1975 offered the club a further exciting opportunity and in the 1975/1976 season, the club entered into the unknown territory of senior competition. The club's very first national league game was against Killester from Dublin and proved to be a winning one with St Colms emerging victors on a scoreline of 76-74. This win proved that the club could now compete with the best on the national stage.


From then on, the National League gave the club a high profile and shortly afterwards the ladies team entered the ladies National League.


Despite the pressure of fielding two senior teams, the club continued to develop their underage structure and in the 1970's fielded teams at U14, U15 and U19 boys, U15 and U19 girls as well as junior teams in local Division One and Division Two, winning a number of titles.


In 1977, the club represented Ireland at the golden jubilee of Sporting Club Hansa in Germany and as a result of this, bi-annual visits to Germany took place for a number of years after. The club also visited Wales on a number of occasions in the late nineties and more recently visited Luxembourg.


The club continued to flourish and in season 1980/1981 the mens team won promotion to Division One of the National League. Unfortunately, this was also the year that saw the introduction of American professional players into Ireland. At the time, the club was not financially equipped to recruit a professional player. The club therefore competed with its home grown Irish players and were unlucky to be relegated back to Division Two.


In season 1983/1984, through the sponsorship of the Glentworth Hotel, the club recruited it's first American professional, Dan Duffy an exceptional perimeter shooter. Duffy, together with Seamus Woods, Tom Carr, Des Bourke, Pat Shanahan and Harry Coyne guided the club to Top 4 qualification. Further sponsorship followed from Guinness (under the Hoffman's brand) and Jonathan's Restaurant. This enabled the club to recruit two of the most outstanding Americans to have played in Ireland namely Mark Ward and Kirby Kulas.


The club competed in the Mens National League for 13 years and were to reach the top 4 stage on eight separate occasions. The club competed in the Ladies National League for 8 years reaching the top 4 qualifiers two times. The club briefly entered the ladies into National League Division One in the mid 2000's.


During this period, Marian Clarke became the first female from our club to win a senior international cap. Seamus Woods became the first player to win a senior mens international cap followed shortly afterwards by Paschal Brennan. Paschal later went on to win a scholarship in the USA and played college basketball there for a number of years.


In the mid 1980's the club won 3 Carling Cups in succession, a competition designed for National League Teams from the Mid West Region.


Unfortunately the cost of participation in the National Leagues was beginning to take it toll on the club. It was now costing IR£25,000 per annum to run two National League teams. This was a severe drain on the club's resources and it was inevitably the underage teams that were to suffer. In 1988/1989 the club reluctantly withdrew from the National League.


Meanwhile, the ladies who were now competing at intermediate level were chalking up some notable successes. In 1985, the ladies team which comprised the outstanding talents of Sheila Collopy, Marian Clarke, Grainne Larkin and Karen Cunneen, won the prestigious Pegasus Intermediate Tournament in Dublin defeating the host club in the final by 43-31. In the same year, they also won the Thomond Basketball Tournament which attracted a number of the top intermediate teams from Cork, Kerry and Dublin.


In 1986, the ladies became the first team from Munster to win the All Ireland Intermediate Championship which was held in Arklow. The ladies were also to successfully defend their Thomond title in the same year.


Not to be outdone by the ladies, our mens intermediate team were to win the Thomond Tournament as well in 1985 and 1986, the only club to achieve this unique double double.


In 1988 St Colms ladies won the Limerick Division One Title going through the season unbeaten. This was a notable achievement considering the league consisted of two national league teams from Shannon and Marathon that same season.


With the demise of the national league teams, the club refocused it's attention on it's underage structure which was sadly neglected. It slowly began to build it's underage teams from the younger teams upwards and this patience was rewarded in the mid nineties with the club regaining it's dominant position in the local leagues.


Since the 1993/1994 season, St Colms has dominated the North Munster Underage leagues (Formerly Limerick/Clare Leagues) winning titles at all all age groups to include boys U13, U15 and U17 as well as girls U10, U12, U14 and U16.


In the early nineties, the club began competing in the Billy Kelly U17 Boys Tournament in Cork. This tournament is recognised as the All Ireland U17 boys Championship with the top underage teams in Ireland competing. The club finished runners up in 1995. The club continued to compete in this tournament for the next number of years. In 2001, under the coaching of Ian Cotter and Colm Barry, the club believed it now had a team capable of winning this title. After two days of competition and 6 games, the boys were to meet the aristocrats of underage boys basketball, Blue Demons from Cork in the final. In an enthralling game that ebbed and flowed, St Colms prevailed to become the first club outside the power bases of Cork and Dublin to win the championship.


The boys team included Jason Killeen who went on to win a number of underage international caps. Jason was also voted the national schoolboy player of the year award. Jason went on to play Division One College basketball in America and is currently forging a professional career in basketball. Jason has also been capped a number of times on the Irish senior team.


In 2002 the club, in a continued effort to improve the standard of basketball, entered the Cork Ladies Basketball Board League for the first time. It entered it's U18 girls team which finished third in it's first season. The highlight of the year however was the girl's victory over Glanmire in the end of season championship winning the final by 3 points. This team included a young Rachel Clancy at the start of her career. Rachel went on to win international recognition at underage and senior level and also play college basketball in the States.


A few years ago, St Colms took the decision to concentrate fully on the girls side of the club. This has, in the intervening years, proved to be the correct decision. Our underage girls have thrived in the recent past, completely dominating the underage ranks in the North Munster Leagues and competing successfully in the Cork leagues.

The highlights of these recent years however have been winning the All Ireland U14B championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010.


Today St Colms continue to play a prominent role in Limerick basketball. It has teams competing in all North Munster Leagues from U10's up to senior ladies. It also competes each season in Cork with two to three teams.


The success of St Colms Basketball Club could never be achieved without the work of our dedicated committees throughout the years, the support of our various sponsors, Presentation Convent and CBS Sexton Street, who provide our training and match day facilities, the coaches and parents, but especially the players young and old who have kept the club so strong over the past number of years.