Pat Price has stepped down as coach of Garvey’s Tralee Warriors after two successful seasons at the helm.
In 2018-19, Price led the Warriors to their first Superleague title and only the fourth to ever come to the town, after his side went on a 10-0 run at the end of the season. However, the past season proved to be more turbulent. Although Tralee again enjoyed the best on-court record in the league, going on an impressive 11-1 run for the second half of the season, they ended up forfeiting their title after they were deemed to have played an unregistered player, Andre Berry, in two of their victories, resulting in the league being awarded to Belfast Star.
In a Twitter post over the weekend, the 2019 Coach of the Year paid tribute to the club’s committee, coaching staff and players. “Our culture was something I will always cherish,” he’d tweet from his home in Belgooly, County Cork. “We had incredible internal leadership from [captain] Darren O’Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy, as well as from chairman Terry O’Brien.”
Tralee had been the third team Price had coached in the Superleague since arriving from the US in the autumn of 1998. In the noughties he coached UCC Blue Demons to three National Cups and a Superleague title and then in 2011 took an unfancied Neptune to a Superleague final only to narrowly lose to a then-dominant Killester team. He is also the current coach of the Irish U16 boys team, though their upcoming European championships has been cancelled.
It will be interesting how Tralee go about identifying a successor. Since coming into the Superleague four seasons ago, they have always had a professional American coach, with Mark Bernsen coaching the team to end-of-season Champions Trophy success in 2017 and 2018. However, with clubs likely to struggle for sponsorship next season in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Tralee could find it difficult to recruit American players and coaches.
Price’s assistant, John Dowling, who has also coached local school team Mounthawk to All-Ireland honours in recent seasons, is the most obvious replacement.