Laois Hurling Legend Adds Voice To Calls For Basketball Arena

Pat Critchley is a former member of the Portlaoise Panthers.

Laois hurling legend Pat Critchley is the latest to endorse the building of a permanent home for the Portlaoise Panthers. 

Joining more than 250 people who have left a message on their petition, Critchley says he has witnessed the ebb and flow of the club over the years but it has never been as strong and vibrant as it is now.

He is calling on the powers that be to remember the vision Fr. Jim O’Connell had when the team moved to St Mary’s Sports Hall and find them a home for their next forty years. 

Signing the petition, the former Laois manager said: 

I joined Portlaoise Basketball Club in 1972 when we played in Old St Mary’s Parish Hall.

We moved to St Mary’s Sports Hall after its building was spearheaded by Fr. Jim O’Connell. The Sports Hall committee for thirty odd years from the mid 1980’s comprised mainly but not exclusively of parents of young basketballers. They voluntarily oversaw development projects as well as the upkeep and running of the Sports Hall on behalf of our Parish and community.

I have witnessed the ebb and flow of the club over the years but it has never been as strong and vibrant as it is now. It caters for players from nursery, to juvenile, to Midland League, to National League, to Masters and inclusive teams, as well as consistently producing Irish Internationals.

It has always been a strong part of the ethos of basketball in Portlaoise, that we cater for anyone who wishes to play. It is vital that our facilities allow us to continue with this proud tradition.

I know that the club will not be found wanting in its financial input into a facility project but they will need support. There are several options available and it is essential that all relevant bodies get behind the project; Basketball Ireland, the Council, the Parish, Sport Ireland, Sport Partnership and more.

We need to be open to thinking outside the box, if necessary, to achieve our goal.

We will especially need the people of our town and county, as well as our businesses, to get behind us. We can provide a facility that we can be proud of and that, with our superb location, can attract major sporting events.

Let us remind ourselves of the vision Fr. Jim had for a facility that has served us for the last forty years and build a new one that will serve us for the next forty.

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