“We played against girls as well, the likes of Sandy Fitz (a basketball and camogie legend), (current Demons senior) Carleton Cuff’s mother, they were fabulous players. We’d some brilliant summer tournaments. It was incredible, we’d be there from dusk until dawn. What’s missing now is we don’t have outdoor courts.”
“Weaker lads come on naturally because they won’t come back if they’re not getting a bit of ball. You try and keep fellas there so it’s not four on five, which is no good. You can’t stop for three months and come back and take it up again and expect to progress.”
“It’s something I’ve always said to my boys, be first down on the ball, but it’s hard to get into a player, you have to have that vigour and fight in you. That passion to win for your team is priceless.
“He said ‘exactly’. ‘It’s great to have these skills but change direction and go. Use it.’ Now you need ball control, you need to move fast with the ball, but it’s very simple if you can do all that at speed.
“As a player you’ve to use your team-mates, pop and go. Why do your moves have to be in a straight line? Why do they have to be small steps? Take two long steps, at angles – Euro steps they call them now, it’s just side-stepping – and you’re slowing down naturally then when you’re coming in to lay it up. Make it tricky. Left, right, finish off your weak hand until you don’t have a weak hand.”
“The likes of Kieran and Francis O’Sullivan, Mark Scannell, they were in the North Mon just before me so I was trying to break on to their team. They learned their trade up there and I was following their lead.”
“Now they won, but they brought up another fella as number 24 on the panel. He never played a minute all through it but he got my medal. It wasn’t his fault but it was wrong. I was told: ‘you picked your sport’. But I represented the school in an Ireland jersey. I was cut out of the history books afterwards. The 1985 winning team and I’m not included in the panel. That was wrong. Totally wrong.”
“Joe Healy was our defender to annoy the Americans. He stuck to them like a jockstrap. That was his role and there was no one better.”
“We’d ball back on a time-out. They were going berserk so you could barely hear. The play was a stack, with myself and Kennedy standing back to back and I was to push him one way and go the opposite to draw the defenders. I pushed him left he turned and threw the ball up into the air – it went in.
“I cornered Jackie and he said ‘Heaphy I don’t want to sign that, you’re too good a player’. I explained that all I wanted was to play basketball and I was cracking up, starting to doubt if I was any good. He took the form, ‘I’ll sign it because I know how much you love playing’.”
“The (now) brother in law, Dave Lehane was there, only new to it. At a meeting to vote me in only Paul Murphy, Mono McCarthy and Alan Kelly, who’d left Neptune previously, backed me. They expected me to be gone at the end of the season. I ended up staying until the Mon had to fold. We were paying for our own bus and accommodation but the money still ran out.”
“Our training was all figure eights, lay-ups and basic shooting drills. We saw these Americans spinning the ball, firing it off the backboard, we couldn’t wait to go off and try that stuff. It was like a circus for us – the new Harlem Globetrotters, and they actually came to Neptune in the ‘80s.
“Bob Stevens’ record still holds for blocks and rebounds in college. Gerald Kennedy the same.”
“How can you turn down the chance of being an Irish international for your sons? It’s great for the CV even outside of sport. Last summer Adam was in Macedonia and Cian was in Bulgaria.”
“You don’t want to be watching. It can be hard because you want to still be out there. You don’t want to be older with a steel knee. Alison said it to me one day: ‘I’m not your first love… your first love is basketball!’ I said, ‘I played basketball ever before I met you!’”