Sport

Playing basketball will benefit your other sports, says Curran 

February 16th, 2023 9:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí head coach Pat Curran. (Photo: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO)

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BY KIERAN McCARTHY

PAT Curran tells a story about Shane Murnane, a Cork minor hurler last season who played his first-ever basketball game in October 2022 and went on to play for his school, Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, in last month’s U19B All-Ireland Schools Cup final.

Curran, a teacher and basketball coach in the Bantry school, had tried to convince Shane to play basketball when he was in second year, and knocked on the door again last year. 

‘He played 20 minutes in the All-Ireland final,’ Curran explained on the Star Sport Podcast.

‘He is after catching the bug now. Even though Shane is a big GAA man and basketball would be a second sport to him, this is something he can do every winter.

‘We (Bantry) are traditionally a GAA community but it’s become a thing where GAA people like to play basketball in the off-season. I’d prefer everyone to have basketball as their number one,’ Curran smiled, ‘but I have no issue with GAA players coming to me and asking if they can play some basketball.’

 

GAA is the first choice for St Colum’s player Murnane, but Curran is delighted he tried life on the hard-court and enjoyed it. The skills from basketball are transferable, Curran explained, and can be used in other sports – quick handling, quick feet, quick passing, quick thinking. 

‘The number one thing is decision-making,’ Curran explained.

‘In a game of basketball you have about 40 decisions to make in the space of 24 seconds, you’re going from offence to defence really quickly so those transitions are really good for spacing, figuring out where you are going next; it’s a great sport for decision-making. And that can help every sport.

‘Movement is another area. There is no such thing as a back or a forward in basketball; you are both. You’re in offence and defence so you need to learn all the skills. Defending in basketball is quite similar to defending in GAA; you can’t touch, you are trying to stay ball side of them and force them into a difficult shot.

‘Fitness, too. You are up and down the court. Short, fast sprints, and you might get a five-second break when the ball goes dead. That’s another thing that lads in the GAA say to me, that when they go back at the start of the GAA season they are always fitter than the guys that didn’t play basketball.

‘When you think of soccer or GAA, let’s say you’re a centre back, you are covering the same patch of ground for most of the game, but there is no stop in basketball; you are up and down the court all the time. You transition from being a forward to a back very quickly, if you want to put it in those terms.’ 

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