Tributes paid to Neptune coach Martin Aherne

Tributes paid to Neptune coach Martin Aherne
Martin Aherne (centre), Assistant Coach with the Irish U20 Basketball team, pictured at Neptune Stadium in 2006 with Niall Murphy, Blue Demons, and Garry Walsh, Neptune. Pic: Cillian Kelly

Cork basketball is still reeling from the passing at the weekend of one of its most popular and respected figures, Martin Aherne, coach of the 2003 Neptune team that delivered the illustrious club the most recent of its 11 Superleague titles.

Aherne, 54, had been ill for some time but still remained in good spirits in recent times, his upbeat disposition being one of the many qualities why he was so beloved among the Cork basketball and wider community.

He was an outstanding underage player, winning three national U19 championships and two Billy Kelly U17 national invitational tournaments in the early 1980s, and represented his country at U15 and U17 level.

However, only a few years after featuring on the 1983-84 Burgerland Neptune national league squad, injury prompting him to switch his attention to his true vocation – coaching.

Aherne coached multiple schools, colleges, club and community games teams in Cork, but also coached multiple Irish underage teams, frequently alongside his great mentor and friend Noel Allen. Then in 2002-2003 he led Neptune to a remarkable Superleague title. Midway through that season the team and club had been devastated by the sudden and tragic passing of 21-year-old Emmett Neville, but under Aherne’s inspired guidance, the team went unbeaten for the rest of the season.

Martin Aherne coaching the late Emmett Neville and Ger Noonan. Picture: Eamonn Keogh
Martin Aherne coaching the late Emmett Neville and Ger Noonan. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

He remained a member of the Neptune club right up to his passing and was highly respected as a community health worker for the HSE. He leaves behind his beloved wife Martina and their daughter Áine.

In what otherwise would have been a hugely-attended affair, his funeral at noon tomorrow will take place privately in light of the Covid-19 crisis, although officers of the Neptune club and its 2003 Superleague-winning team will form a guard of honour observing social distancing protocol.

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