Castleisland Community Centre became an international Basketball arena for a while on Friday evening. There, local hero Adam Donoghue and his Ireland Boys’ U-16 team hosted their Scottish opponents in the first of two weekend challenge games; the second is to be played in Cork this evening.
Both sides have qualified for next month’s European Championship finals in Bulgaria and while they are in different groups no opportunity to impress was lost last evening.
Liz Galwey introduced both sets of players and the generosity of the applause was shared equally in volume between home and visitor – until Adam Donoghue raised the decibel levels.
After their customary warm-up routines both sides and the capacity crowd stood in reverential silence as both anthems were played.
A low ripple of singing broke out around the centre as the beautiful Flower of Scotland blossomed forth from the IPod as it did for our own Amhrán na bhFiann.
The Scotish anthem took me back to Sheila Prendiville’s on a winter’s, Saturday evening nearly a decade ago when Dromulton native, John Buckley sang it Sliabh Luachra style after a Six Nations Rugby game.
Adam Donoghue’s parents, Eileen and Garrett and relatives from all corners of the parish and friends from everywhere joined his fan base in cheering his every move. He can’t have any doubt this morning about his levels of popularity and how much his selection on the Irish team is appreciated locally.
There was a bonus just seconds after tip-off as Adam rose gracefully to slot the first basket of the evening. If you think this was a set up for the home boy’s honour – think again. The level of competition was intense as every player on bench or court was preening to impress their Euro championship potential on their respective selection panels.
They fought like Tigers – within the mannerly confines which the game imposes – for every scrap of possession and every half chance of a score. In the heel of the hunt Ireland prevailed over their celtic cousins on the scoreline of 88 to 62.
The Basketball Ireland website praised St. Mary’s Basketball Club for staging and managing the event as follows:
“Ireland put on a show for a packed home gym in Castleisland to beat Scotland 88-62 in the first of their three-game series.
It was a good exercise for us,” said Head Coach Paul Kelleher. “Scotland threw some stuff at us we hadn’t seen since our games against Denmark at Christmas. Ireland racked up 28 points in the opening quarter but conceded 20.
We were sloppier than we have been in a long while and then in other patches I think we were quite good. A 10-day trip followed by a couple of days’ lay off means you’re always going to need time to get up and running again.”
PK’s side were 48-34 to the good at half time. The gap went out to went to 20 after 26 minutes and stayed there through to the final buzzer.
We would also like to thank St. Mary’s of Castleisland, who were extraordinary in organising the event and making everyone feel welcome. It’s times like these that the players and staff realise it is all worth while and the Kerry support tonight was exceptional.”
Ireland’s Group B Draw for the European Championships is as follows: Thursday August 6th: Ireland v Austria 13.45 – Triaditza Hall, Sofia, BUL; Friday August 7th: Ireland v Czech Republic 20.30 – Triaditza Hall, Sofia, BUL; Saturday August 8th: Ireland v Netherlands 16.00 – Hristo Botev Hall, Sofia, BUL; Sunday August 9th: Ireland v Norway 13.45 – Triaditza Hall, Sofia, BUL; Monday August 10th: Ireland v Slovenia 13.45 – Universiada Hall, Sofia, BUL