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Reawakening Nenagh's passion for Basketball

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 1:16pm
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Reawakening Nenagh's passion for Basketball

Nenagh Warriors Under 13 Basketball team who were runners-up in the Tipperary Community Games final last weekend

Reawakening Nenagh's passion for Basketball

Nenagh Warriors Under 13 Basketball team who were runners-up in the Tipperary Community Games final last weekend

By Thomas Conway

 

Nowadays, it might be tempting to dismiss basketball as another one of those mercantile American money sports. Endless chequebooks, superficial glamour, and glorified teams with catchy names, shooting hoops in front of corporate elites in Madison Square Garden.

It hasn’t quite lost its appeal to the Irish public, but things aren’t the same as the 1970’s, when people would try their hand at anything, and sport had that great element of disorganisation. Aspects of American culture were just beginning to seep through, and in Nenagh, basketball had captured the imagination.

As anyone of a certain vintage will tell you, the New Institute Hall could have matched any US arena for sheer energy and excitement. The inter-firms leagues had the place hopping, and Patsy Farrell remembers it all well. He has good reason to, those competitions were his first introduction to a game which most locals now associate inextricably with him.

You could say the exact same in a snooker context, and ironically, it was snooker which led him to basketball in the first place. He was only a young lad at the time, potting balls in another part of the historic New Institute complex. One night, when a vacancy arose in one of the teams, his services were called for, and so began his basketball baptism. Those inter-firms games were fierce, playfully hostile at times, with all the local businesses vying against each other. The boys from the Creamery always brought trouble, tearing apart the notion of basketball as a non-contact sport. In many ways it was an era of discovery, a more sensible, sober version of the 1960’s, as Patsy recalls.

Yeah going back to the 70’s, you had the firms playing here in the hall. And I suppose in those times, looking back on it, new things were starting to come in. You had soccer street leagues, the basketball was going on. People were kind of looking at America, American sport, what’s coming out of America. The video came in, the computer followed a bit later on. You had Americans coming over and the relationship was building. So then basketball was the sport.”

 

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