WHEN basketball people talk about some of the great basketball coaches in Cork or indeed, Ireland, Conny Daly is a name that comes up a lot, as he had one of the greatest minds in the sport.
He was ahead of his time in terms of his coaching philosophy. What he was doing more than 30 years ago is now in vogue with the most modern coaches of all sports.
So what was his thinking back then?
“My aim was to help young people by shaping their path in life by teaching them life skills while they played and learned the skills of basketball," Conny Daly said.
While Conny won plenty of trophies in his career it was his teaching the players what was the right way to play, to win and to lose which was his greatest strength as a coach.
Conny started out playing basketball with Iona boys club in the Blarney Street School as an eight-year-old boy.
Little did he know at the time, that first step in the sport he loved, would play a big part in his life for over 40 years.
“I began playing basketball with Iona from a young age, and in a couple of months playing I became hooked on the game,” Conny said.
“I would stay on the outdoor court playing after school with my friends and would stay to watch the older lads train until late into the night.
"I played with Iona right up to Minor level, where I had great success playing with Timmy McCarthy, Kieran and Thomas McCarthy, Billy and Ger Cronin from the Rock steps, Eddie McMullen, Denis Daly, Jonny Crean, and Huge Miller, who was a fine player.
"The players who would stand out at that time were Pat Quirke and John Cooney, who were superb basketball players, and I would spend hours watching them trying to pick up skills to improve my game.
“I also began my coaching career with Iona at the age of 15, coaching one of their U11 teams.
Conny left Iona after Minor to join Blue Demons to play with their National League team for a season and played Junior level with them for a 10-year period.
However, coaching the boys' team with De Paul’s down the Wanna gave him more satisfaction than playing.
“I joined Demon’s after Iona, and played National League for a season with the great Noel McCarthy and many more great players.
"I then dropped down to play Junior as I couldn't give the time National League needed as I wanted to stay coaching.
"I must say I played my best basketball with Demons at Junior level with players like Dave O’Sullivan, Kieran Hegarty, Pat Keane, Freddie Richmond, George O’Connor and Vince Looney.
"They were great lads and we traveled all over the country playing in tournaments and we won many of them.
”The Wanna became my second home as I would spend so many hours there coaching the young boys in the club. As my mother would say you should bring your bed down there as you spend more time there than at home," Con said with a smile on his face.
They were great people with Demons at that time with John Coughlan ( Senior), Micheal Murphy, John Buckley, Liam and Tongie Olden making sure that the young players were looked after.
"The players that would stand out to from that time were the Foley brothers Tony, Ken, Brian, and Ivan, Micheal and Kieran O’Leary, Joe O’Connell, John Keneally, the Higgins brothers, Jonny and Barry, Dee Looney, and Barry brothers, Rory and Cormac.”
Conny would also spend 15 years on the Juvenile Country Board where he would work with great basketball people like John Coughlan (Senior), Billy Coffey, Noel Lane, Billy Kelly, John Hayes, Tony O’Connell, Aaron O’Connell, Kieran Doherty and Noel Allen.
He also would also join the North Mon Basketball club in the mid-'80s to continue playing and coaching.
“I spent a good few years on the Juvenile Board and spent all my Saturdays in the Parochial Hall running the games.
”I also joined the North Mon where I continued to play and coach with the great people there.
"One of my highlights playing was captaining the Junior side to the Intermediate All-Ireland beating Crosshaven in the final.
"We had a fine side with John Lynch, Eugene O’Sullivan, Thomas Kelleher, Robert Cronin, and were coached by American Bob Stevens.
”I got to work with some great coaches in the Mon with the likes of Francis O’Sullivan, Roger Kelleher, Eugene O’Sullivan, and Liam O’Connell all helping me develop.
"However, I got to coach such great players like Bobby Kelleher, Joe Hoare, Kieran O’Sullivan, Mark Scannell and Colin O’Sullivan to win the U17 Billy Kelly tournament in 1982.
Conny stepped away from the game in 2010 to take up his second love, his passion to learn and play folk music.
“I stepped away from basketball in 2010 as I wasn’t getting any more enjoyment from it.
"I started to learn folk music from Jonny Crean, Roy Buckley, The Lynch Mob, and Hank Wendell and Ray Barren, and I now get to enjoy playing with them now. That's my passion now."