The Castlerea Kings put on a show last Saturday night in The Hub in what was their final home fixture of 2018. They were convincing 76-46 winners over Sligo All Stars and remain joint top of the Lonleitros Basketball League with some tough trips away to come before Christmas.
Player and club secretary, Garbhan Madigan, said the Kings are enjoying another impressive season in what has proven to be a highly competitive league competition.
“The league expanded from five or six teams to nine teams a few years ago and at the moment we have two teams from Co. Roscommon, Boyle and ourselves; two teams from Longford; Sligo All Stars, the Gladiators, two teams from Carrick and Athone IT.
“We are joint top with two other teams following seven games and all three teams have five wins and two losses,” he said.
Castlerea, like many rural towns, was badly hit by the recession and this has led to players moving away for work. The establishment of new teams in places like Knock has also meant that former Kings have left the roster.
“If you could have some of the players from this area who have moved away you’d have some team! When it comes to players under the age of 25 there are only three of us working in Castlerea at the moment. Some of the lads are travelling from Athlone and places like that which is hard,” Garbhan said.
Most of the Castlerea Kings roster would have started with legendary Castlerea Community School coach Joe Henry at the age of six or seven and some would have been introduced to the game through the Community Games in Ballaghaderreen. Former Roscommon senior football captain Seanie McDermott is an important member, as is Joe’s son Joseph.
“We’d be in the gym with Joe on Friday nights when were younger and it was a couple of euro per session. It was great to have somewhere to go during the winter,” says Garbhan.
Nowadays, the Kings of Castlerea spend weekend nights travelling to gyms and venues throughout the region in a bid to make the Top Four and seal a place in the cup finals. This Saturday they’re away to Mohill while the following weekend they’ll travel to face the Gladiators. They’ll be hoping to continue their recent good form into the New Year in order to bring even more basketball silverware to the town.