Ahead of this Saturday’s Irish cup final, BallinEurope’s Emmet Ryan spoke with Jermaine Turner and Al Casey of Killester about the current rules on import players and the role of the Irish national team in the game in Ireland
At 42, and having spent most of his adult life in Ireland, Jermaine Turner isn’t your regular import. He’s seen different phases in the Irish game, including times when there were far fewer restrictions on who could play for teams in the Superleague.
“When I first came in, there were two Americans per team and there were a lot of Bosmans around. I understand that they wanted to develop the game but I think they hurt the game. When you play against better players, you are going to try and raise your standard. When I was a kid I was like a kid learning from playing with younger, better guys,” Turner told BiE.
Despite his concerns over these limitations, the American veteran is happy to see certain improvements in the game here. The return of the national team at senior level and the return of Gaelic football star Kieran ‘The Star’ Donaghy.
“When I was in Tralee I was practicing with him because he was playing with St Brendan’s. I asked people who he was and they said ‘That’s Star’ and I said Star should be starring for us because he’s a player,” says Turner.
“Now, seeing him play, he’s grown so much. He’s one of the smartest players in the league. It’s a thrill to play against him because we see him on TV playing Gaelic football and we want to kick his ass.”
Having the star power of Donaghy in the league is a step but Turner sees the return of Ireland’s national teams as a bigger one.
“Having a national team is the backbone of any country. Without that, it robbed the guys of the ambition and incentive to get better.”
Turner’s teammate Al Casey shared his view and remembers what it was like when the teams were disbanded.
“It’s a realistic goal for any Irish player. It’s about having the steps there, like winning a cup, or getting a contract in Europe, it’s another step again,” says Casey.
“The underage teams were pulled for a couple of years. I remember being on the U20s and it was scrapped, suddenly your summer wasn’t about basketball. There are other distractions there that you can lose players to like Gaelic football,”
“If you don’t have it to aspire to, you are going to look at opportunities in other sports. Having the Ireland team there is a good incentive to aspire to.”
The Irish cup final between GCD Swords Thunder and PyrobelKillester is live on TG4 and via TG4.ie worldwide this Saturday. Coverage starts 7.50pm Irish time/8.50pm CET/2.50pm EST