James Gormley goes to the basket for Portlaoise Panthers against UL Eagles. Photo credit: Portlaoise Panthers Facebook page
Basketball Ireland has confirmed that the new Irish domestic basketball season will begin on September 18th with the men’s National League while the women’s National League follows two weeks later, starting on October 2nd.
This is the news that the Portlaoise Panthers club has been waiting for with their men's and Women's team now finally having some clarity as to when they will return to competitive action.
The men's team will compete in the Southern Conference of the Men's Division 1 league while the Women's team will be at the same relative level as they gear up for a crack at the Southern section of Women's Division 1.
Basketball Ireland CEO and chair of the MNCC, Bernard O’Byrne, said: “We’re excited for the return of the National League after the Covid-enforced hiatus last season. The men’s teams will get a chance to fine tune their preparations for the National League with a special ‘Summer Tournament’, which will begin on July 31st and end on September 4th.”
A pre-season tournament will also take place for women’s National League clubs. The ‘WNLC Women’s Series’ will start on August 28th and run to September 18th. The WNLC has also confirmed that the women’s Super League will be a regular league, with home and away games. The women’s Division One will be split into two conferences, the five-team North Conference will contain LYIT, Phoenix Rockets, Swords Thunder and Ulster University Tigers. The six-team South Conference will have Limerick Celtics, NUIG Mystics, Portlaoise Panthers, St. Paul’s Killarney, Tipperary Knights and UL. Teams will play on a home and away basis in their respective conferences, with either a home or away cross-conference game against teams from the opposite conference.
Chair of the WNLC, Breda Dick, added: “This is a significant step for the return of our sport by revealing our season start date. A lot of work has been put in by clubs over the last year to 15 months to prepare for a return and that will now accelerate. We’re really looking forward to finally having some sort of normality and getting back on the court.”
Full competition details for the men’s and women’s pre-season tournaments will be revealed in due course.
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