CORK basketball coach Paul Manning has just returned to America with his wife and children after spending three weeks in his native Rebel county.
Despite being on holidays, he was very generous with his time doing some coaching for the Cork County Basketball Board, Fr Mathew's BC, Shooting Stars Basketball Camp, and also doing some individual training sessions with Irish international Mikey O’Mahony.
Paul’s career has gone from strength to strength Stateside.
Recently, he was appointed Associate Head Coach to Seth Berger at Westtown Varsity High School.
Westtown are just after coming off a incredible season, winning the Westtown/ Phelps Invitational tournament, the PA State Title, the Friends League for the 10th year in-a-row, and also they won 16 of their last 17 games, only losing to the number one team in the country, Sunrise Christian Academy.
They were led by stand-out player Derek Lively, who will be playing with powerhouse Division One College Duke Blue Devils next season, a player that Paul rates very highly.
“It was great to be home for a few weeks to see friends and family, however, my wife Natasha must be an angel as I spent a lot of the time coaching,” Paul said.
“I feel it's very important to give time back to the game here in Cork as I was lucky to have some very good coaches like Seanie Murphy, Eugene O’Sullivan, Kieran Doherty and Francis O’Sullivan, who put in a lot of their time with me when I was young and learning the game.
“I did some work with the Cork County Board in the Parochial Hall where we had over 90 kids and the 60 kids over two days.
"I did some work with the Fr Mathew's U13 team and with their young star Mikey O’Mahony.
"I also went out to Ballincollig to help out at the Shooting Stars Basketball Camp."
Last year was a great one for the Man United fanatic, both on and off the court.
“I just got promoted to be the Associate Head Coach at Westtown Varsity, and will be next in line to coach Berger and we're just after coming off a stellar year.
“One player who I got to know very well over the years is Derek Lively, who will be playing with Duke University next year.
"Derek is a great kid on and off the court and is a wonderful talent, however, my boys Cian and Luke will also miss him as he used to babysit them over the years."
Despite all that Paul has accomplished in America he remains a very humble and grounded guy.
It really frustrates me to see so many coaches with huge egos here in Cork.
They seem to think that everything revolves around them and not their teams.
They seem to forget that the players are the most important ones in the game, so TEACH THEM WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW AND NOT WHAT YOU KNOW!.
They always try find a excuse or someone to blame when they lose games.
Paul Manning is the opposite to this. For him there is no room for egos, especially from a coach.
“I soon found out when I came to the States that I had to leave my ego at the door, as the kids are the important ones and we are only there to facilitate them.
"It’s funny because I probably had the biggest ego when I used to coach and play here in Cork.
"I must have lost it on the flight over to the States,” Paul says jokingly.
Paul, with the help of Tipperary native Kieran Quinn also spends a lot of time helping players here in Ireland try and for fill their dreams going to High School and College Stateside.
There are so many pitfalls for young boys and girls going to the States, it’s so important that they pick the right courses and have the right grades before they travel.
Also they need to pick the right school no matter if it's a Division 1, 2, or 3 college, because it’s pointless if they pick a college just because of the basketball program and let their grades slip.
“Kieran Quinn, who I played with on an Irish team in the nineties and I spend some time helping kids in Ireland to get into schools here in America.
"We give them advice and guidance to help them with the landscape and pitfalls of playing ball in High School and College.
"What the young players don’t understand before they come here is that their education is the most important thing and it really doesn’t really matter if it's a Division 1, 2 or 3 school if your getting a full scholarship, and it's a good program you go to the school that’s suits you, both from a playing and education viewpoint.
“There is only so much that we can do over in the States, so I think with so many kids coming over to the States at the moment if there was someone here in Ireland that can advice and give them guidance before they make any decisions, that would benefit them greatly."
So what is the next goal for Paul Manning?
“In the next few years I would love to help out with one of the Irish international programs,” Paul added.