After seventeen months out of action, Irish basketball has been given the nod to resume its National Leagues this autumn, with the 2021-22 campaign beginning on the weekend of 9/10 October.
The decision follows a submission to Sport Ireland, which has been approved by Sport Ireland, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, along with the government's Return to Sport Expert Group.
Senior Super League and Division One clubs will be allowed to resume collective training from 23 August, while pre-season games can start from 13 September.
Basketball, like other indoor sports, endured a lengthy pause due to Covid-19 restrictions, stretching to 17 months and forcing the complete cancellation of the 2020-21 season.
The announcement rounds a good few days for Irish basketball, after the senior men's national team claimed the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries title for the first time since 1994 on Sunday, an achievement alluded to Basketball Ireland chairman Paul McDevitt in his statement on the news.
"After our senior men claimed gold at the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries last night, this is more excellent news for basketball here in Ireland," McDevitt said.
"We're delighted to have been given the green light for our senior National League teams to return. We’ve been in lengthy discussions with Sport Ireland and this is the first step in getting our sport back.
"I’d like to thank Sport Ireland for helping us get to this point and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with them to ensure basketball at all levels can get back fully as soon as possible."
Basketball Ireland interim CEO, Paddy Boyd, added: "We will be in contact with our National League clubs to outline further details, including the protocols that will need be followed, and we will give clubs the assistance they require to return to the court. They have shown great resilience over the last 17 months since the National League was halted in March 2020, including having to deal with the late cancellation of the 2020/21 season.
"I would like to reassure those teams outside the National League that we have not forgotten about them and our desire is to get everyone in the sport back playing indoors as swiftly as we can. We are working tirelessly in the background with Sport Ireland, the government and the government's Sport Expert Group."
Matt Hall, Basketball Ireland's senior technical officer, said it had been a collective effort in arranging a return to play and said it paved the way for "a brighter future" for Irish basketball.