Salesian College Celbridge entered the U16 Midlands Basketball League last October. Salesian’s began with a home game against Scoil Dara Kilcock. It was the first competitive basketball game in the school in some years and Salesian’s managed to start the league campaign with a good win. In the second game of the league Salesian’s played a much more experienced Colaiste Choilm Tullamore team. They fought hard and played well as a team, helping them to win by a close margin. Their final group league game was against a much bigger St Joseph’s Rochfortbridge team. Salesian’s came into the game with high confidence and eventually broke down the opposition to come out with a good win. With home advantage for the semi final Salesian’s once again faced St Joseph’s Rochfortbridge. Hard work in training showed through in this game with their offence and defensive dominating to book a place in the Midlands League Final.
Salesian College faced Colaiste Choilm Tullamore in the Midlands League Final. They had been Salesian’s biggest test in the league and they knew they had to bring their best game to the final. Salesian’s started very well, building a strong lead and maintaining it for much of the game. However, inexperience became evident and they were unable to hold out for the win. Fortunately, Salesian’s progressed to the all Irelands playoffs in early 2013.
Salesian College played in the All Ireland Playoffs in January 2013. There were four playoff groups Salesian’s were pitted against Aquinas Grammar Belfast, Colaiste Iognaid Galway and Cnoc Mhuire Granard who hosted the playoff group. Salesian’s arrived in Granard with a great sense of expectation and with the motivation of moving on from their previous defeat to fulfil their potential. They started out very well, playing Aquinas grammar in the first game and beating them 39-31. There was a good chance to recuperate before their second game against Colaiste Iognaid. The players watched the other teams playing and altered their tactics to suit. This worked really well as Salesian’s went on to overcome Colaiste Iognaid to a score of 49-31. The last game of the day, was Salesian College against the hosts Cnoc Mhuire. Both teams were unbeaten and playing very well. A large crowd had also gathered so that the sense of expectation was palpable.
Salesian’s started slowly, struggling to come to terms with the occasion. Cnoc Mhuire held a lead at the end of the first quarter and this continued until the fourth quarter. However in the third quarter Salesian’s came to terms with Cnoc Mhuire’s defence and managed to adjust their offense to begin scoring well. The stage was set for an enthralling final quarter and the hall was buzzing. Salesian’s had to make up a six point deficit. They managed to do this with four minutes to go and built a slender lead going into the conclusion of the game. It was then that Salesian’s point guard got injured and had to come off and the energy reserves of the team were expended. Salesian’s lost the game by five points against a Cnoc Mhuire team who would go on to win the All Ireland League and Cup double this season.
Building on their successful season Salesian’s continued to hold training sessions for the rest of the school year. A development team was formed and gained good experience in through skills development and challenge games. It has been an amazing debut season for Salesian College and they hope to push on and continue to do Salesian College proud on the court in the future. Their success is owed to the players, their families and the staff of Salesian College whose support and encouragement throughout the year was invaluable.