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




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.”


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.


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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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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Ballymac charity vintage run on October 1

The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1. The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac. Registration […]




The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1.

The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac.

Registration begins at 9:30am and sets off at 11am.

“There will be two separate routes with one for tractors and the other for cars and motorbikes. Proceeds on the day are in aid of Castleisland Day Care Centre and we’ll have plenty of spot prizes to giveaway too in the morning,” said the club’s PRO Kieran Glover.


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