THE town and surrounding parishes of Castleisland in December brings the buzz of the Christmas Basketball Blitz.
In December much of the talk around town is about the Christmas Blitz: "When is the programme out? When are you playing? What teams are in which competition? I wonder who will be crowned Miss Basketball?".
It is part and parcel of the festive season for the town. Yes, St. Mary's Castleisland is yet again providing the locals and county with the usual exciting entertainment for the Festive week with its Annual Christmas Blitz. This year marks the 43rd Blitz.
St. Mary's have being running the Christmas Blitz since 1970 when it all started in the Astor hall in Castleisland, where sometimes the Blitz was held during the day and the dance was on by night! After six years of ever increasing popularity the show was moved in 1976 to the Castleisland Community Centre. As the Annual Blitz grew the need for a second venue was obvious and this prompted the introduction in 1988 of St. John's Hall which is part of St. Joseph's Secondary School. The Christmas Blitz is obviously one of the best and most recognised competitions in Ireland.
The Blitz is run over 5 days, starting early on St. Stephen's Morning and finishing late in the evening on the 30th of December. It caters for all age groups from National School right up to Senior Men. Players are drawn principally from the local areas but we now have teams from all over Kerry and Ireland.
These teams include the leading National League Clubs- In the Premier Ladies, we have Team Tom McCarthy's, Tralee Imperials, UL and Foireann na Gaillimhe and in the mens we have Team Garvey's, St Brendan's, Ballincollig, Blue Demons and Neptune.
Much of the credit for this major organisational achievement should go to Tournament Director Donal "Duke" O'Connor and Denny Porter, the Tournament Secretary and Chairman of the Club. Helping Duke and Denny is their strong committee and for 2012 we will have over 1650 players, 165 teams more than 183 games in 24 competitions and there will be 24 team winners - all in only five days at two venues!
As always sponsorship for this annual event is raised locally and huge thanks is extended to the local businesses who have contributed from around the county, especially in this economic climate.
Our major sponsors are Munster Joinery, Den Joe's Restaurant, Walsh Colour Print and Garvey's Super Valu . St. Mary's Basketball Club are indebted to all.
The Castleisland Basketball Blitz is the biggest of its kind in Ireland and it blends the unique atmosphere of Christmas cheer and family spirit into an occasion which is eagerly anticipated by all involved and which has to be experienced to be believed!