A new era in Galway basketball begins for Moycullen when they tip off their first season in the Superleague next month.
Up against the best players from throughout the country, Moycullen will be up against the renowned powerhouse clubs of Irish basketball such as Neptune and UCC Demons from Cork and Killester and UCD/Marian from Dublin.
It is a daring and brave move for the club which is based in the small town on the outskirts of Galway city, but this team of local players, who have shown no fear when pitted against bigger reputations in the past, are quietly confident of turning a few heads westward as they begin their Superleague journey.
The step up to Superleague provides Galway with its first foray into semi-professional basketball on a regular basis. Thus for the upcoming season Moycullen have enlisted a US collegiate star, Simon Harris, to its team. Harris is fresh out of playing four years at North Carolina State, one of the best college basketball teams in the world. Coming from a conference which features countless future NBA stars, Harris is expected to bring a wealth of experience and athleticism to the Moycullen outfit and is set to be a fan favourite.
The team also welcomes the return of point guard Michael Dowd. An underage star for Moycullen, Dowd has spent the last two years playing Superleague for Limerick where he attended college, and his experience at the top level will be crucial to the team’s success.
Another new addition and crucial to Moycullen’s season is the recruitment of new head coach Enda Byrt. The former Irish senior men’s head coach is a highly respected figure within Irish basketball who boasts an intimate knowledge of Irish basketball and several years’ experience of coaching at Coastal Carolina University in the United States.
This trio of new recuits will boost an already competitive squad that has been developed over the last 10 years. Former division one player of the year John Cunningham, and last year’s captain Nollaig Cunningham, along with veteran Glenn Hynes, are expected to provide added leadership to what is a young team.
Of the 16 squad members currently training, 11 are 22-years-old or younger - 10 of whom are current NUIG students. Among the crop of young players aiming to impress are Dylan Cunningham and James Brophy who were members of the Irish u-18 squad that toured the United States this summer. Other youngsters are last year’s division one player of the year Cian Nihill and ex-youth internationals James Loughnane, Garnett Griffin, and Paul O’Brien.
Moycullen have enjoyed national success in the past. Its u-20s won the Irish Cup in 2008, while the seniors have also captured the division one cup, and through years of dedicated work the club has generated a strong and passionate culture for the sport in the small basketball parish. On the boards its style of play has captured the imagination of local supporters, and now, with the additions made during the off-season, Moycullen basketball games should prove to be a hugely entertaining evening for Galway sports fans.
It promises to be a memorable and historic year not only for Moycullen but for Galway basketball and sport in the county.
•Broadcaster Seán Bán Breathnach will officially launch Moycullen's Superleague season in The Forge tommorow night at 6.30pm.
•Moycullen will open their season against UL Eagles on Saturday October 4 in the Kingfisher Complex at NUIG at 6pm.