Defense Forces Inter-Command Basketball Championship 1928-1986

Championship Finals 1928-1986

Results compiled from Defense Forces Documents at the Defense Forces Military Archives in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin. [References: 1]

All-Time Win-Loss Table 1928-1986

Defense Forces Basketball Championships Inter-Command All-Time 1928-1986

1Western Command2010700.667
2Eastern Command1012420.455
3Air Corps69270.400
45th Battalion60181.000
5Southern Command36150.333
6School of Music2170.667
83rd Battalion2061.000
84th Battalion2061.000
105th Brigade1140.500
11Tech Wing1031.000
122nd Brigade1031.000
126th Brigade1031.000

Table compiled from Defense Forces Documents at the Defense Forces Military Archives in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin. [References: 1]


Western Command were the leading team in the Defense Forces Inter-Command Basketball Championships from 1928 to 1986. With Basketball first being played in Ireland in the Army Barracks as these were the only places with Gyms before the end of World War II, it was the Defense Forces that dominated the early Basketball scene in Ireland. After the foundation of the Amateur Basketball Association of Ireland (now Basketball ireland) in 1947, the Defense Forces continued to play alongside civilian teams in the All-Ireland Club Championships and Blitzes. With the foundation of the first civilian Basketball teams (Neptune in Cork – still in existence) and the Weevils (named after a bug that eat the corn in the Defense Forces supplies), the focus shifted away from the Defense Forces to the population at large.

The earliest Defense Forces Basketball Championships were thus the equivalent of the All-Ireland Basketball Championships up until after World War II. The first two winners were the 5th Brigade (1928) and 6th Brigade (1929), and from then until the outbreak of the war (“The Emergency” as WWII was known as in Ireland), Battalions dominated, with the 5th winning six Championships, and the 4th and 3rd two each, along with one for the School of Music.

From 1941 onwards the Commands took over, with the Western Command being the best overall during the Cold War era, with the Republic of Ireland again being neutral like in WWII. The Western Command picked up 20 Championships from then until 1986, with nine runners-up spots, and the majority of the players on the 1948 Olympic Basketball team, until very recently the only team event where Ireland had competed in the Olympic Games.

Eastern Command took second in this table with 10 wins and six runners-up places, and coming on strongly in later years were the Air Corps with 6 Championships and 9 runners-up spots.


Archive Material

[1] Defense Forces Military Archives Cathal Brugha Barracks (1986) Document: DF AA/400/4 541/11-E12 “Basketball Championships: Established in 1928”  Requested by Enda Mulcahy on 12 October 2016.


[2] Shannon, Kieran (2009) “Chapter 2: The First Civilians” “Hanging from the Rafters: The story of Neptune and the Golden Age of Irish Basketball”. pp. 41-55. Echo Publications, Cork, Ireland.

[4] History Ireland (2012) Ireland ‘slam-dunked’: basketball at the 1948 games [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 30 April 2020]


Thanks to Sean, John and Richie.


Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 8 May 2022

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2022

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