Kieran Donaghy reminisces about his Tralee Tigers basketball glory days

Former Kerry and Tralee Tigers team-mate Mike Quirke joins him to look back

BY Raf Diallo 20:30 Thursday 26 January 2017, 20:30 26 Jan 2017

Kieran Donaghy in 2006 ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

While Gaelic football is what we know Kerry star Kieran Donaghy for more than anything else, basketball is also a major love for the four time All Ireland winner.

Back in 2005 with Tralee Tigers, the 6 foot 5 athlete won the National League and was Player of the Year for that season.

He's not the only Kerry footballer to have enjoyed success on the basketball field. Former team-mate Mike Quirke also won the National League with Tralee Tigers.

Donaghy recalled the strength of that Tralee side in the mid-2000s which was a blend of talent from Kerry, other parts of Ireland plus Americans.

 

Tralee's Kieran Donaghy attempts to block the shot of LaShon Sheffield of UCC ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

"We just had that strong eight or nine guys that could match up to anybody and could play it tough, who could play it skillful. Whatever way you wanted to go with it, we seemed to have all the answers," said Donaghy.

Quirke added that the strength of an Irish basketball team could be drawn from the quality of the signings from abroad - particularly those from the United States.

"It's such a lottery with the basketball in Ireland. It's so dependent on the quality of the imports that you get," he said.

"The imports that we got that [first] year were catastrophic. So the guys that you had were really, really poor and weren't up to a whole pile and that [second] year then we just got guys who were really, really good quality."

Donaghy described Tralee as a "staunch basketball town" and that support proved crucial to pushing the team up to greater heights.

Donaghy also spoke about the time he tried out with a few US colleges for three weeks at one point, but had been playing in a strong Kerry under 21 team.

"As Mike said, it was probably too much to risk what we thought then, but looking back on it now, probably it would have been no harm to go over [to the US] for a year or two. You would have come back in great physical shape, you would have come back stronger, fitter. Yes, you would have been out of football for two years but it's like riding a bike. You wouldn't be long picking that back up again. It would have been nice," he said. 

Quirke also talked about what he feels needs to be done to reinvigorate basketball in Ireland and feels there is a "gap in the market".

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