Monday 14 October 2019

Thunderbolt as Swords bow out of Super League


Paul Byrne

There was a massive blow for basketball in the Fingal area last week when it was announced that Griffiths College Swords Thunder had disbanded and as a result would no longer take part in the Men's Super League.

The club had been evidently struggling recently in the Irish men's top division, with only six players available in recent weeks and the Swords outfit losing six games on the trot as they slid dramatically down the table.

The club began the season relatively well and were in third spot in November, but head coach Dave Baker began suffering with health problems and without his input the club have apparently fallen apart at the seams.

Baker has been with the club since they joined the National League (under the name Dublin Thunder) in 2011 and was a driving force throughout the years, pretty much running the whole club by himself.

With Baker out of the picture due to his health problems, the club's relationship with Griffiths College began to weaken and ultimately led to a situation where all involved thought it best to disband the club.

A statement from Griffiths College thanked Baker for all the success he achieved during his eight-year stint with the club.

'Griffith College would like to announce that the national institution's men's basketball team partner Swords Thunder has been disbanded.

'Over the years, the Swords Thunder basketball team has seen great success under the guidance of coach Dave Baker. The team's highlight came in 2017 when they won the Hula Hoops National Cup.

'Swords Thunder joined the Men's Division 1 league in 2011 and the Super League in 2013, partnering with Griffith College in 2014.'

Student services manager Paul Walsh stated: 'While it is sad that Swords Thunder has ceased as a team, we would like to thank the club and their coach Dave Baker for some amazing memories throughout our partnership together.'

The club also released a brief statement confirming that they had reached the end of the road.

'We hate to inform everyone of the news that Griffith College Swords Thunder men's team have pulled out from the men's Super League. It has been a great number of years for the team and involved some great success for the team, and from all at the club we would like to thank all the players and management who helped make the team the success it was,' read the statement.

Since gaining promotion to the Super League for the 2014/15 season, Baker's side have been one of the most consistent in the country. They finished as runners-up in their debut season before following that up a year later with another runners-up spot in the prestigious National Cup. Two years ago the club's greatest moment arrived when they defeated Killester 72-51 in the National Cup Final.

One of the key men in the side was point guard Isaac Westbrooks who took over coaching responsibilities following Baker's illness. Westbrooks paid tribute to his now former coach and teammates.

'It was one hell of a chapter,' he said. 'I'd like to thank everyone at Swords Basketball Club that put in the time and effort over the years to make the 'Thunder' as successful as it was. A special thank-you to Dave Baker who took a chance on me back when I had a reputation as being a cocky hot head who was difficult to coach.

'I've been blessed to play with so many talented players while with this team and I wish each and every one of them great success in basketball and in life moving forward.'

Fingal Independent