Patrick McCarthy will enjoy a baptism of fire playing for his native Tralee for the first time tomorrow night, as the Warriors face UCC Demons at the Mardyke Arena on the opening night of the new Super League season.
The new Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League season is set to be a memorable one for McCarthy, lining out in the competition with his native Tralee for the very first time. Tralee will kick-start their campaign with a Munster derby. The Cork men were 24 points off the summit of the table in sixth place last season, but with Colin O’Reilly returning to the role of head coach after a spell in the UK with Cheshire Phoenix, McCarthy is expecting a tough examination from their Munster rivals.
“Demons are always strong, no matter who they have,” said McCarthy, at the launch of the new season in Dublin’s National Basketball Arena yesterday.
“They’ve lost a few players this year, but they’re still a great team. They’re always going to give you a good game, no matter who they have. They’ve Adrian [O’Sullivan] down there, they’ve Colin back this year. Hopefully we’ll get some fans down there, and make it a good, competitive game.”
While Tralee will once again have overseas players like Trae Pemberton (USA) and Goran Pantovic (Serbia) on their roster, the presence of veteran Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy will also be a big draw for the club.
McCarthy acknowledged that the four-time All-Ireland winner helps to raise the profile of basketball in the town, and expects to see him lining out with the Warriors once again in the new campaign.
“He brings a lot of people in, definitely. A lot of people come just to see Donaghy. He’s a great player as well. We were just talking about him on the way up there. He gets them through a lot of games. He brings the kind of football mentality in, the grinding mentality.
“A great passer, and just a great teammate. I can’t wait to play alongside him for the year. We don’t know what’s going on now for the first game, but he’s definitely playing this year, so we’ve heard anyway.”
McCarthy spent the past four years in Limerick with the UL Eagles, but following their relegation to National League Division One last spring, the 6’3” guard opted to sign up with Tralee Warriors for the 2017/18 campaign.
The Kerry town was previously represented by the successful Tralee Tigers side (who folded back in 2009, a year after winning their third league title), and McCarthy believes the Warriors have the perfect blueprint to bring the glory days of basketball back to the Kingdom.
“They’ve only been in it a year, so I suppose they found their way pretty quickly. They had the perfect blueprint for starting up a Super League team. That’s how you’re meant to do it,” said McCarthy.
“They did everything right, from social media to just getting fans to all the games. Definitely we’re going to look to build every year, and hopefully build Tralee back up to the town that had the Tigers, and back into the glory days of basketball.”
After achieving a respectable third-place finish in last season’s Super League, the Warriors ended their maiden campaign with a thrilling 74-73 victory over league winners Templeogue in the Champions Trophy decider at Letterkenny last April.
The two sides will renew acquaintances at the Tralee Sports Complex on November 18, and after some difficult encounters in last year’s top flight, McCarthy is hoping he can have greater success against the south Dubliners on this occasion.
“Hopefully I get a chance to play them [Templeogue] now on a team that will be competitive with them, because last year I played them a few times, and we weren’t exactly competitive. It was winding down last year, the tail end of the Limerick days, because they [UL] had Neil Campbell retiring, Matt Hall retiring. That era is kind of over. I’m looking forward to that match up, definitely.”
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