Kieran Donaghy and Tralee return to top table

Premier League basketball will return to Kerry later this year, with Basketball Ireland confirming four new franchises for the national leagues, including Tralee Town BC.

Kieran Donaghy and Tralee return to top table

It’s the first time since 2009 that traditional hoops hotbed Tralee will host a National League team. Tralee Town is a collaboration between Tralee Imperials and last season’s National Intermediate Cup champions, St Brendan’s.

Kieran Donaghy was MVP in the final in January and Tralee Town BC chairman John Dowling has confirmed that the three-time GAA All Star will be on the roster for their maiden season.

“There’s a huge buzz around with Kieran coming back,” said Dowling. “It wouldn’t have been possible to make the step up without both clubs working together and people feel like this is going to be a team for the town of Tralee.”

The club has also confirmed that Mark Bernsen will be returning to Kerry as head coach. The American won the Men’s Superleague with Abrakebabra Tralee Tigers in 2008 to cap a run of four national titles in five years for the club.

The move will also allow the next generation of talent in the Kingdom to compete in an elite set up. Ryan Leonard was a leading light for Ireland at the U18 European Championships last year while Mike O’Donnell is training with the Ireland U20 squad.

Dublin-based KUBS has been granted entry to the top tier on the back of a debut national league season which saw them finish runners-up in the regular season and claim the League Cup trophy in the post-season. As KUBS enters it’s tenth year, captain Conor James said: “Our first season in Division One was a really good experience and I think it says a lot about the standard that we feel ready to make the step up. We’ll need to raise our game, though.”

Sligo All Stars will return to Men’s Division One for the first time since 2009, where they will be joined by a Dublin Lions side taking their first foray into National League basketball. A Letterkenny-based team will also enter for the first time. LYIT will draw from clubs across Donegal and surrounds and compete under head coach Niall McDermott.

“You’ve got to give a focal point to your players as something to aspire to,” said the Derry man. “No one club in the region could take on this challenge, so it’s more like an all-county team, in many respects.”

Men’s Premier and Division One National League teams 2016-17 (24):

Belfast Star, BFG Neptune, C&S Blue Demons, C&S UCC Demons, DCU Saints, Dublin Lions, Eanna, Fr. Mathews, GCD Swords Thunder, ITC Basketball, JM&L Auctioneers Titans, Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin, Kestrels, KUBS, LYIT, Maree BC, Pyrobel Killester, Sligo All Stars, SSE Airtricity Moycullen, Team Kilkenny, Templeogue, Tralee Town BC, UCD Marian, UL Eagles.

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