It has been an incredible few days for Portlaoise Panthers after they bagged two All Ireland trophies in the space of three days.
Their U-18 and senior women’s teams brought home the trophy after winning their respective finals at the Hula Hoops National Cup finals in the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght.
Before the excitement, just a few weeks ago there was anger as it emerged that officials at St Mary’s Hall had yet to even make a formal application for funding to advance plans for a new sports venue despite the belief they had.
Now, advancements have been made as Portlaoise Panthers made the following announcement on their Facebook page:
“Following on from the incredible few days for Portlaoise Basketball in winning three All Ireland Cups, members of Panthers Executive Committee held several meetings with our public representatives to put forward our proposals for the development of basketball in the locality.
“As has been reported, the proposed indoor sports arena which was subject to a feasibility study was estimated to cost in the region of €22 million excluding land costs.
“Clearly this level of investment is considered to be unlikely in the short or medium term.
“As Portlaoise Panthers have immediate concerns about the affordability, availability and suitability of basketball facilities in the locality, the club needed to raise this important issue with our public representatives.
“In no particular order, the Club met with Cllr. Caroline Dwane and Deputy Brian Stanley T.D. who both received the Panthers proposals with interest and conveyed their support for same. The club also met with the Technical group of LCC, Cllr. Noel Tuohy and Cllr. James Kelly who also expressed their interest in progressing our proposals via LCC.
“Finally the Club met with Cllr. Catherine Fitzgerald, Cllr. Willie Aird, Cllr. Padraig Fleming and Cllr. John Joe Fennelly who agreed to discuss our proposals further with the Chief Executive of Laois County Council Mr John Mulholland.
“Speaking today Panthers Chairperson Seamus Dooley said “It’s been a dream week for the club winning two national cups last weekend plus the third national cup won by our members in Scoil Chriost Ri school, however we are committed to developing the club further, making the sport more accessible to all in the community”.
“We are at or even beyond capacity both in terms of the cost borne by players and their families for facility rental and yet we cannot get sufficient hours to expand the club.”
“Portlaoise Panthers gratefully appreciates the support from the aforementioned councillors and TD’s and the Club will continue to speak to more of our public representatives in order to seek further support for securing and improving the future of basketball in the locality. We look forward to working in partnership with the various stakeholders in the near future.