Puff Summers’ Basketball Diary: ‘It’s Crazy To Play The Guys I Used To Coach When I Was 11’

My Templog teammates and I haven’t played in the four weeks between the Christmas break, the cancellation of COVID, and the National Cup exit.

If we start our big push for the Super League title in the new year, we will be back in action tomorrow against our old side, Moykulan.

It’s been a long time since I played for him during the 2009-2010 season. I was considered experienced back then, so some things from this encounter are making me feel even older.

Tomorrow I will face only one of my old Moykullen teammates, Dylan Cunningham, who was just 18 or 19 years old when I was playing with him. He is 30 years old now.

Worse yet, some of his teammates – Eogan Kelly, Paul Kelly and Kyle Cunningham – were 10 or 11 years old at my basketball camp when I was in Galway.

It’s a bit crazy for me to do match-ups against him.

The other American player with me at Moycullan, Simon Harris, has since become the women’s head coach at East Tennessee State, an NCAA Division 1 side.

I recently spoke with her about recruiting Lucy Coogan, an Irish under-18 international whom I am coaching, so fingers crossed that goes well.

Moykullen may sit at the bottom of the Southern Conference, but the Galway side’s record doesn’t do justice to the team’s caliber. We’re definitely looking forward to a dog fight tomorrow.

Last weekend, I brought my two girls with me to the cup semifinals in Cork.

It was great to see our Templog women’s team win their Division 1 Cup semifinals, but until the next game, my five-year-old was no longer interested. By then the iPad became his best friend.

I had to go back home to Kilkenny to watch on screen as the Tralee Warriors made their first National Cup final, which has been a long time coming. He has conquered everything else.

I’ll watch next Saturday in the decider as Warriors star man Kieran Donaghy takes on Neptune’s veteran player-coach Colin O’Reilly.

O’Reilly, who also holds the Cork Senior Hurling Medal, must have six eyes in his head because he has an amazing ability to analyze a game while he himself is playing in it.

I was once the player-manager for Kilkenny’s National League team, and when I saw tapes of those games, I realized I wasn’t really capable of doing it.

There were so many adjustments that I could neither see nor do I, being in the midst of madness on the court. So O’Reilly is really impressive.

He will be tough against Donaghy, but Tralee’s Ireland international, Eoin Quigley, who should be about 6ft 4in, 10 stone and have no fear.

I remember, as Ireland’s assistant, traveled to Slovakia with him in 2019, and he was able to hold his own against two 7ft pros from Slovak.

I will obviously watch the final with Ireland’s set-up in mind, as will Templog’s coach, Mark Keenan, who heads the national team.

We will focus on our rescheduled league game against UCD Marion just before the decider next Saturday.

It is a bit unusual to play league matches on the same day but it will help us forget about being out of the cup in the first round of this season.

Weekend Fixtures

Friday

Male Category 1 – UCC Demons vs Father Matthews, MardyK Arena, 6.30 am.

Saturday

Women’s Super League – UCC Glenmire v Brunel, Mardikey Arena, 4.30; Father Matthews v St. Mary’s, Father Matthews Arena, 5.0; Liffey Celtics v WIT Waterford Wildcats, Leixlip Amenities Center, 6.0.

Men’s Super League – Tempolog v Moykulan, Nord Anglia International School, 5.0; Killester v Garvey’s Tralee Wars, IWA Clontarf, 5.0; NUIG Mari vs. DCU Saints, NUIG Sports Center, 6.0; UCD Marion v Ballincolig, UCD Sports Center, 6.0.

Women’s Division 1 – NUIG Mystics vs. Tipperary Knights, NUIG Kingfisher, 3.0; Ulster University v. LYIT Donegal, UUJ, 5.0; Limerick Celtics vs. Limerick Sport Huskies, St. Munchkin’s College, 5.0; Portlaois Panthers v Marble City Hawks, St. Mary’s Hall, 6.0.

Male Category 1 – Dublin Lions v Titans, Collist Bridge, 5.30; Ulster University v Malahide, UUJ, 7.30.

Sunday

Women’s Super League – IT Carlo Basketball v Killester, Barrow Center, 1.30 pm; DCU Mercy vs. Trinity Meteors, DCU Arena, 2:30 p.m.

Women’s Division 1 – Phoenix Rockets v Templog, Lisburn Rackets Club, 2:30 p.m.

Male Category 1 – Portlaoise Panthers v Killarney Cougars, St. Mary’s Hall, 2.45.