Jermaine Turner doesn’t need to roll back the years. Despite the date on his driver’s licence, he’s never stopped being a beast in the Irish league and he showed why in a huge win for Killester on Saturday night
The mohawk wasn’t always there. It might be a way of pre-empting any thinning hairline. Back in the autumn of 2002 he was already a veteran who had his fun joking with refs and making chumps look silly. Back then he was playing for UCD Marian, taking down Notre Dame in a league game the college paper’s sports ed had decided to cover.
15 years later, he’s still playing with the refs but the Superman celebration when he draws an and one has been added to the repertoire since. Maybe it’s an homage to Cam Newton, or maybe he just knows that most guys approaching their 43rd birthday can’t do what he does. Turner does some old man stuff but don’t confuse his game for old man ball. He’s still one of the most athletic guys on the floor, his intensity has never let up, and he’s more than happy to go into a wall of bodies and hope for the best. Turner is Old Man Power.
On this night he began as old man deep. While not a bad three point shooter, Turner just doesn’t put up that many from beyond the arc anymore. Killester however remembered what happened the last time they played UCD Marian. In their league fixture a month earlier UCD had given up space on the outside so they could bully Turner with Dustan Moreira and Neil Baynes on the inside. It was a beat down and one the old man wasn’t going to let slide.
Turner opened the game with a pair of threes right after grabbing defensive rebounds on the other end. There was a long QB pass to Peder Madsen and a the old fashioned bundling through transition that led to a score on the inside. Oh and there were rebounds, so many rebounds. By the end of the first he was nearly on a double double and he’s more likely than not to grab 20 boards a game still at this age. For Turner there’s no choice, he has to dominate. Despite spending the vast majority of his adult life in Ireland, he still counts as an American under league rules and that means he has to prove his worth that extra bit. Only one American is allowed on the floor at any time, Turner lives to show he deserves to be that guy.
It’s not as easy for him as it once was. He used to school UCD Marian’s imports with regularity. In a pair of league games against the College two years ago he had his way with Preston Ross, a man barely half his age at the time and with tremendous athletic prowess. Ross is playing in the fourth division in Germany and thriving now but back then he was beaten out of the gym by a man in his 40s.
Tonight he was up against Mike Garrow, a youngster playing between the two and three who was able to stuff him more than once. Barry Drumm picked his pocket in the second and for a few brief moments he looked human. Then Turner made it three from three from deep and we all remembered that every house is his house.
At this stage last year he terrorised the giant duo of Conor Grace and Jason Killeen as Killester gave Templeogue a huge fright. At 6’5” he was giving up 4 inches to Grace and 6 to Killeen but even their double teams didn’t phase him. Turner has seen it all and only grown more fearless with age.
Through the half his charges were up 10 and looking well on course for the W, Turner was grabbing boards for fun and UCD looked done. Turner had to sit on three fouls but he came back in ready to play.
Then he landed. Turner hit the floor and looked shook. He got up smiling only to immediately buckle again.
There’s a song called Mo Ghile Mear over here. It roughly translates as my one and only but it really means my do all everything everyday bad baaaad man who is always there when it matters. Without their Gile Mear, Killester were struggling and UCD mounted a big comeback. Throughout the final moments of the third and the early few minutes of the fourth, Turner worked on his knee to find a way back in.
Then it happened, the Willis Reed moment. Turner re-entered after suffering what looked to be at least a game ending injury and there wasn’t going to be any way he lost tonight. Not after what he had been through 12 months ago, 1 month ago, and 10 minutes prior. In his aggressive zeal to carry the day he picked up a fourth foul but fought on undeterred.
Then came the and one. Superman got his moment to draw back his shirt. An assist to Al Casey, Turner simply would not be denied. With the game all but won he sat for the last time. As the final seconds ticked down Turner left his spot at the end of the bench to make sure every player, coach, trainer, and manager, got their own bit of dap. The horn came and he was the first to embrace losing coach Ioannis Liapakis, followed soon after by another long hug with Drumm.
The final line showed Turner had 15 points, 28 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block in the 81-69 win. Superman had earned his chance to fly in the arena once more. The Swords Thunder await and they had better be ready.