Wonderful welcome awaited Sem’s basketball heroes

Champions: The all-conquering 1988 St Brendan’s squad

This Tuesday marks the 35th anniversary of the day a talented young basketball squad from Killarney penned their own chapter in the annals of sporting history with a performance that earned them a coveted national title.

St Brendan’s College clinched the All-Ireland Colleges Senior A championship with a thrilling 84-78 victory over highly-rated Cork’s North Mon in an all-Munster decider played at St Declan’s College Cabra, Dublin.

31 January 1988 was a real red letter day for the Sem and the players that brought glory to the town were Cormac O’Donoghue (captain), Colman O’Shea, Timmy Looney, Timmy Leen, Eamonn Keogh, Aidan O’Shea, Mark Cooper, Liam O’Connor, Ger Flynn, Simon O’Shea, Connie O’Leary, Pat Sheehan and Niall O’Callaghan.

They were coached by former Irish international Tim Regan who was assisted by Fr Jack Fitzgerald – then a teacher in the Sem and now parish priest in Millstreet – and they produced some top-drawer performances on their route to the decider.

Tim Regan: Coach of the 1988 Sem team
Fr Jack Fitzgerald: Assistant coach

St Brendan’s College enjoyed early round victories against Mercy Kanturk, Tralee CBS and Colaiste Padraig, Castleisland before they edged out Killarney Community College 53-33 in the local derby Kerry final.

As Kerry champions, they progressed to a Munster semi-final meeting with Crosshaven, winning 83-58 in Macroom, to book their place in the Munster final and the All-Ireland Championship top eight.
Although North Mon of Cork beat the Sem 93-86 in the extra time provincial showdown, the top two teams in Munster were guaranteed a place in the national finals.

The late Killarney UDC Chairman Cllr Seán O’Keeffe
The late Bishop of Kerry, Dr Diarmuid O’Suilleabhain

In their pool games St Brendan’s College defeated Leinster champions Patrician Newbridge 55-50, St Mary’s of Galway 51-42 and La Salle, Belfast on a 60-45 scoreline,
As group winners, Killarney advanced to a semi-final meeting with St Joseph’s of Galway and came out on top, 88-75, while they exacted sweet revenge against North Mon in the grand final which ended 84-78.
St Brendan’s top scorers were Cormac O’Donoghue 24, Colman O’Shea 24, Liam O’Connor 14, Aidan O’Shea 12 and Connie O’Leary eight.
This was a first and only All-Ireland  Colleges Senior A crown won by St Brendan’s College although the school has won other All Ireland basketball titles in other age categories since that historic victory in 1988.

The all-conquering squad were afforded a VIP welcome home with a colourful parade through the streets while the then Killarney UDC Chairman, Seán O’Keeffe, proposed a special vote of congratulations at a council meeting.
The late Bishop of Kerry, Dr Diarmuid O’Suilleabhain, and then St Brendan’s College President, Fr Dan O’Riordan, hosted a special reception for the team at the school.

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