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Former St Paul’s star on fast-track to become a top basketball referee

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By Sean Moriarty

A Killarney woman is making a name for herself as one of the few female basketball referees in the country.

OFFICIALS: Emer Buckley with the CEO of Basketball Ireland John Feehan. Photo: Martin Doherty

IN ACTION: Killarney referee Emer Buckley pictured in action on the court.

Emer Buckley, a former Irish International and St Paul’s Killarney star, is enjoying a second career as a Basketball Ireland official.

Emer is the only Superleague referee in Kerry. There are two other Kerry female officials who are on the national league panel.

Last month she was one of the three designated officials to take charge of the Womens’ National Cup Final in Dublin and her ambition is to officiate at Men’s Superleague games in the future.

Her career as a basketball referee started shortly after she hung up her national and club jersey.

Keen to stay involved in the sport that shaped her life, the Ardshanavooly-raised woman started refereeing school matches in the popular town league, about 10 years ago.

“The competitive streak in me meant that I could not carry on playing just for fun, I had to get involved on the inside,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “Breeda O’Neill rang me one time and said she was desperate for a referee for a juvenile town league game – it kind of took off from there.”

OFFICIAL SIDE

The local town league matches sparked an interest in the official side of the sport and after taking a few Basketball Ireland courses she started to referee local county matches in Kerry.

Her work rate and sense of fairness on the court attracted the attention of Paul Dempsey, one of Ireland’s top Basketball officials and FIBA (International Basketball Federation) National educator, and he encouraged Muckross-based Buckley to take national league level courses.

She officiated her first national league game back in 2012 under her mentor, Emma Perry, another top senior Irish basketball official.

Perry is a driving force behind getting more woman involved at an official capacity and guided Buckley along her journey.

All through lockdown, she spent hours on Zoom calls and other online courses to continue educating herself and to improve as an official. These courses were led by FIBA national educators from all over Europe.

This resulted in her being selected as one of the three match officials for the national semi-finals and finals last month.

For the average spectator in the stands, it looks like the referees just turn up on the day of game, take charge and go home once it is over.

PREPARATION

A typical national match would involve hours of pre-event preparation. Buckley studies videos of previous matches involving both teams so she can get an understanding of their style of play.

She must build off-court relationships with club managers and team officials and once it is all over she is subjected to peer assessments who comment on what she did right or wrong during a game.

She must remain physically fit too. An average basketball match could last over an hour and a half including time-outs and overtime and while team players rotate during the game the officials must remain physically and mentally alert for the duration.

“I try and go for three to four runs a week which could be between 5 or 10kms on a good week,” she added.

It is a serious commitment, she works full-time and has to find time for her children Michaela (22), Jack (18) and Emily (12).

“They are my number one supporters. When they tell their friends they are going to a match, their friends ask "What team are you supporting?", and they say "We are supporting the ref",” Buckley said.

She has received a lot of support throughout her career as an official and in turn Emer is passing her knowledge to all local league officials as she is also the development officer for the Kerry Officials Association.

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Retiring Garda Sergeant began career in Killarney

Antoinette Cunningham who retired last week from An Garda Síochána and the Association of Garda Sergeant’s and Inspector’s as their General Secretary started her career 33 years ago in Killarney. […]

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Antoinette Cunningham who retired last week from An Garda Síochána and the Association of Garda Sergeant’s and Inspector’s as their General Secretary started her career 33 years ago in Killarney.

Sergeant In charge at Killarney Garda Station Dermot O’Connell paid tribute to her achievements and her unrelenting commitment to improving the policing environment.

As a former Chairman, Secretary and delegate of the Kerry Branch, Sergeant Dermot O’Connell worked closely with Antoinette in AGSI for many years.

“Her support for members of the Association was second to none. Antoinette always pursued what was right and just. Her ability, knowledge and professionalism was acknowledged both internally and externally by other representative bodies and also professional bodies,” he said.

“When Antoinette arrived here at her first station, the late Jack McGrath was the Sergeant In Charge.”
“As many know Sergeant Jack McGrath frequently walked the beat. During this time Jack shared much of his experience with Antoinette who proved her ability as a competent Garda to Sergeant Jack McGrath. “
“Jack was very impressed by her ability even at that early stage, he always spoke highly of Antoinette and followed her career path with great interest.”

Antoinette subsequently transferred to Limerick (Roxboro Road and Mayorstone Garda Stations). As a Sergeant she moved to the Garda College and completed a Master’s Degree in Adult Learning and a BA in Training and Education.
In 2021 Antoinette was honoured by University Galway with an Alumni Award for her significant contribution in the field of policing.

She became the first female member to serve with the Association of Sergeants and Inspectors at Branch level, National Executive level, President, Deputy General Secretary and finally General Secretary.

“On behalf of the Kerry Branch of AGSI I wish Antoinette the very best in whatever the future holds for her and her family,” added Sergeant O’Connell.

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‘The Bumblebee1000’ Supercar event arriving in Killarney on Saturday

The ‘Bumblebee1000’ supercar run will arrive in Killarney around 5pm on Saturday. Around 40 supercars will leave Barberstown Castle in County Kildare on Saturday morning.After stops at Portlaoise Plaza (11am) […]

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The ‘Bumblebee1000’ supercar run will arrive in Killarney around 5pm on Saturday.

Around 40 supercars will leave Barberstown Castle in County Kildare on Saturday morning.
After stops at Portlaoise Plaza (11am) and Cashel Palace Hotel (1pm) the convoy will arrive the Europe Hotel and Resort at 5pm.
“’The Bumblebee1000’ is not just about horsepower and adrenaline rushes; it’s about making a difference. As participants roar through the countryside, they’ll also be driving towards a noble cause. This event is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for The Little Blues Heroes charity, supporting the children of the Little Blue Heroes, and making a positive impact on their lives,” said an event spokesperson.
“The Bumblebee1000” is not just a journey; it’s an experience that blends luxury, adventure, and philanthropy in a seamless fusion. Whether behind the wheel of a sleek supercar or a supporter cheering from the sidelines, everyone is invited to be part of this remarkable event.
The cars will depart the Europe Hotel and Resort at 10am on Sunday and will stop off at a charity cars and coffee event in Tarbert at 11am before finishing in Adare at around 2pm.

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