I saw this documentary posted on Facebook by several people in Ireland. I finally got around to watching it and it is AWESOME. I read Paddy on the Hardwood and skimmed Hanging from the Rafters, both books about basketball in Ireland. Hanging from the Rafters focuses a bit more on the so-called “Golden Age of Irish Basketball.” As someone who played in Ireland last year, I heard countless “back in the day” stories of basketball in Ireland, especially during the 80s. Not that I didn’t believe any of them, but it was hard for me to imagine them.
People spoke of thousands of fans at games. Lines out the door for hours. And kids literally hanging from the rafters at games. Last year in Ireland, we played primarily in small gyms that could only hold up to a couple hundred people and on a handful of occasions were filled to capacity. The Titans-Maree games you could always count on capacity crowds which were fun and exciting. But even at those it was only probably between 200-300 people which made me really try and picture what basketball was like in Ireland in the 80s.
Even at our National League Championship game last year, held in the National Basketball Arena in Dublin, it wasn’t nearly filled. We had an extremely strong showing from our Galway Titans family and Ballon had a strong following of their crazy Lithuanian supporters, but that was only one side of the court.
Now after watching this documentary, had this game been played in the 80s, then Dublin Arena would have been PACKED. Granted, the Titans fans and Ballon fans certainly made it loud enough, but still not even halfway filled.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved playing basketball in Ireland last year. I had a great time, enjoyed every second of it and certainly miss it. However, watching this documentary it’s amazing to see basketball at its peak in Ireland. It’s terribly unfortunate that with such high interest and passion for the sport during the 80s there was such a regression. Don’t be mistaken, there is still a very high interest in the sport and some very talented players in Ireland, with kids and adults playing it all across the country. But, it is just nowhere near what it was in the 80s as you will see in the film.
I highly recommend you taking the time to watch this film if you have any interest in basketball and/or Ireland whatsoever. It is EXCELLENT. The interviews are great and extremely entertaining from Dave Hopla to Mario Elie to Kelvin Troy to Liam McHale, who I actually played against last year. He was a bit seasoned, but still one of the best players on his team.
-This game was played up in Ballina and although we may not have had the huge crowd like they did in the 80s, we did have my parents, my brother and his rowdy friends cheering us on. Thanks for the support guys!! They clearly made these signs after they decided that they didn’t need to watch warm ups, so they went and found a pub and came back in time for tip-off.
And finally the last thing I’ll say about the film is that Dave Hopla is the man. Especially with his quote, “In Ireland, win or lose, we booze.” FANTASTIC!
Now here is the documentary and I urge you to take a look.