Veteran basketball superstars from the 1980s will be in Galway this weekend for the inaugural Galway Masters International Basketball Tournament.
Teams from Scotland, Northern Ireland and England will compete with Irish teams from the 80s, including Neptune from Cork, the Pacers Ballina ladies’ team, and an Irish International Masters selection at the NUIG Kingfisher on Saturday.
The event is being hosted by the Galway Masters Basketball Association which was formed earlier this year by local players Micheál Walsh, James Hanley and Michael Murray, who is a former Irish senior international.
“This is a massive coup for Galway basketball,” says Murray, chairperson of the association. “Players like Deora Marsh, Tom O’Sullivan and John Clayton were legends in their day and thankfully they can still compete to a very high level today. We could not have organised this tournament without the cooperation and assistance of referees, officials, and volunteers and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to these people.”
Masters Basketball is played by men over 40 and ladies over 35 with an equal emphasis on the social as well as the competitive side of basketball. The Galway Masters team is made up of players from various clubs in the city, and also competing will be a team of Masters from the local Titans Basketball Club and the Galway All Stars ladies’ team, featuring former Irish international Fiona McCallion and local players Mary Grealish and Gina Spelman-Naughton.
Throughout the 1980s basketball regularly attracted crowds of 3,000 to local derby games between Cork rivals Neptune and Blue Demons, while in Galway there were many thrilling encounters in Renmore between local side Galway Democrats and other national league teams. Basketball declined in the late 80s and 90s before a strong revival in the sport took place during the last decade.
The Galway Masters has nominated The Alzheimer Society of Ireland as its chosen charity with door donations, raffle proceeds, and surplus funds supporting Gina Spelman-Naughton’s 260k cycle in Cuba in November on behalf of the Alzheimer Society.
This much anticipated event begins at 9am on Saturday with the ladies and men’s finals scheduled to be played around 4pm. The tournament will be followed by an awards ceremony and prizegiving dinner at The Harbour Hotel.