Killester star Jermaine Turner plays his final game in Ireland against DCU Saints tomorrow. Turner, 42, has played here for the past 17 years but returns to the US in April to take up a position at Pittsburgh University.
Turner said: “I loved playing in Ireland but my career has a new path. It will be emotional leaving the court at the DCU complex on Saturday.”
“I came here back in 2000, and 17 years is a long time. The transition to moving back to the States has been in the process for a while now, but it’ll be strange for me, ’cause once September rolls around, I’ll get that feeling that I’m supposed to be playing basketball. I’ll miss certain things in Ireland — certainly not the weather! — but I’ve forged some good relationships here, I’ve met some good people here, and there are certain things I’ll definitely miss, but for the most part I’m looking forward to this new chapter, this new challenge in my life.
“There have been a lot of career highlights, as I’ve been playing here for a long time. The top highlight wasn’t in a Killester uniform actually. My biggest accomplishment that I had here in Ireland was when we won the league in 2006 with Vincent’s because nobody expected us to win anything that year. It came out of nowhere. We went down to the Mardyke and we had to play the best team in the country that year and everyone said that they were going to clean the floor with us and we actually did the opposite to them and we won.
“After my first cup win with Killester, going on to lose the second one to UCD Marian is probably the biggest regret I have. Not saying that Marian didn’t deserve it, but we didn’t take Marian seriously enough that year. They punished us for it I guess.
“I’ve played with a lot of clubs over the years, starting off with Tyrone Towers in Dungannon and I guess you could say Killester has been the twilight of my career. Basketball will still be in my life in America. I’ll definitely be coaching, but as for playing — I think I will play a bit, not at the competitive level I’m playing at now but probably once a week going into a gym to run up and down with guys my age to see if I still can do it; more just for the love of the game.
“Just because I’m moving back to the States doesn’t mean that Ireland is not home. I consider Ireland to be my second home. I have two passports — I hold an American and Irish passport, so I have two homes. Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart and I’ll never forget my experiences here, it’s a wonderful place, and the reason why I kept coming back is that I adapted to the culture. A lot of people asked me why I kept going back to Ireland, they said I could make more money in other places, but for me it wasn’t about the money. It was about being comfortable and enjoying basketball and I had those two things here.”
The closing weekend of the Men’s SuperLeague will see all eyes on the clash between champions Templeogue and runners-up Griffith Swords Thunder, whose coach Dave Baker expects “another cracking encounter”. He said: “On form, Templeogue proved themselves worthy league champions and after this weekend we are both heading to Letterkenny where we avoid one another in Champions Trophy semi-finals.”
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors will conclude their campaign with a home game against UL Eagles who are destined for the First Division next season.
Another big clash is a relegation battle between Dublin sides Éanna and Kubs, while UCC Demons complete a miserable campaign with a home game against Belfast Star.
WIT Wildcats are hosting the Women’s League semi-finals next weekend and are desperately battling to be involved. To do so they must defeat Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell at the Parochial Hall and hope NUIG Mystics produce a season best to defeat Killester.
DCU Mercy finish their campaign with a home clash against Portlaoise Panthers before turning their attentions to a league play-off semi-final with Liffey Celtics.
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