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Jackson hoping to lead the Lakers to the promised land



Ahead of the Scotts Lakers' first home game of the season, Adam Moynihan sat down with the club's new American signing Aaron Jackson to talk about his college career, moving to Killarney and his goals for the year


Hi Aaron. Welcome to Killarney.

Thank you.


You arrived two weeks ago. What are your impressions of the town so far?

I love it. I think it’s the perfect size. It’s not too big, it’s not too small, and there’s always stuff to do.


Have the people been welcoming?

Oh yeah, for sure. Everybody I’ve talked to has started off with, “Welcome to Killarney, we’re glad to have you here”. They’ve just embraced me with open arms so that’s been real comforting. It’s not easy being away from your family, in a different time zone, so it feels good to come somewhere and feel welcome.


When did you first hear about Killarney and the Scotts Lakers’ interest in you?

End of the summer. I went to a combine in Orlando, Florida and Coach Shane (McCarthy) was there. I played really well. Going into it he said I wasn’t really on their radar or anything. It was pretty humbling, and pretty cool to finally get some good luck in that area.


Were you worried at any stage that you wouldn’t find a team?

Yeah because there are so many people in the States trying to get over and play professional basketball overseas somewhere. It’s tough. In the back of your mind you always have that (doubt) but you have to go into every game, every day, with confidence. I never really gave up on myself no matter what happened. I just kept working and kept getting better, and now I’m here.


Did it ever cross your mind that you’d end up in Ireland?

Oh nah, never! But it’s pretty cool that I did.


You’re a 6’6” guard. How would you describe yourself as a player?

I’m a multiple threat guy. I can shoot it from the outside, drive it, handle the ball pretty well, pass it pretty well. I try to be a stat-stuffer, try to do a little bit of everything. I’m good at adjusting to everything the team needs me to do.


What part of the States are you from?

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, born and raised. Big Ohio State football fan. Go Bucks.


Did you always want to be a basketballer?

For sure. I used to play a couple other sports too. According to my dad, my best sport was baseball. I played pitcher and centre field. I played football as well, as a quarter back, but that was just too risky for me.


Which players did you admire growing up?

Basketball is real big in my city so I had the opportunity to see guys like Jared Sullinger (ex-Boston Celtics) play, Trey Burke (Philadelphia 76ers), Caris LeVert (Brooklyn Nets)… And I’ve had the opportunity to play with those guys and come up with them, so I got to learn a lot from some really talented players. I watched a lot of LeBron too, obviously, but D. Wade was a close second. I used to love me some D. Wade. But I wasn’t as athletic as him so I couldn’t really model my game after his.

As I got older I was able to figure out who I could really model my game on and I fell in love with Klay Thompson. We have very similar body types and very similar athleticism.


Are you a Cleveland Cavaliers fan?

Kinda. I’m just a LeBron fan really. Wherever he goes…


Tell me about your school career.

I went to Gahanna Lincoln High School. It was a real powerhouse for a public high school - one of the best to go to around my city. Our coaches took basketball real serious. Then I played with two very good, high-level teams in college in Akron and East Carolina University.


What did you major in?

I was in Sport Marketing for my undergrad and for grad school I was in Student Affairs and Higher Education.


You must have come up against some top players in your time. Any stand-out names?

Oh yeah. I’ve played against a little bit of everybody. Josh Hart (New Orleans Pelicans), Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), Jabari Parker (Atlanta Hawks)… Like I said, Caris LeVert – he was actually in my league in high school so I played him twice a year. Jae'Sean Tate, one my best friends, he ended up going to Ohio State and he plays for the Sydney Kings in Australia. And my high school teammate, Javon Bess, plays with the Pelicans. So I was blessed to play against a lot of very good players who helped to shape my game.


You’re coming from a very high standard in America. What have you made of your Lakers teammates so far?

I like them. I like playing with them. I think Brian (O’Neill) is really, really good. He can shoot really well. Carlton Cuff is a great leader. Andrew (Fitzgerald) is in a hell of a shape for a 37-year-old guy! I haven’t got to see Mark (Greene) play yet. I love Séamus (Brosnan), he can shoot the ball. Toby (Christensen) and Victor (Martínez) have great size. They’re versatile guys who can stretch it out for us. It’s been fun trying to gel and get to know their games as well.


How is training going? Are you enjoying it?

I am. We haven’t really had a full practice yet with everybody – Mark has been injured and people are still playing football – which kind of showed in our first game (a 92-85 defeat to the Limerick Celtics). But I’m really not worried because I know that once we all gel together, we’ll be fine.


Have you noticed a difference in the style of play?

It’s a lot more physical here. That’s the biggest difference. I physically felt that Sunday morning when I woke up. I was just like, “Uh! Goodness, gracious! I need to take a day off!”


What are your goals for this season, both personally and as a team?

Really, personally, I just want to try and be a pioneer for this club and to get the Lakers into the Super League. That’s really my biggest goal. I see all of the other Super League teams and I think that with the size of our club, we should be able to do the same thing.

That’s the biggest thing that’s been on my mind: trying to play well enough to lead the team to promotion. Everybody has just been so nice here so I feel like they deserve that. Killarney deserves a Super League team.


Tomorrow night you’ll play your first home game at the Auracle. Are you looking forward to it?

I can’t wait. It should be fun. The pre-season game against Tralee was fun, I had a real nice time, so I can only imagine what the first official game is going to be like.


The Scotts Lakers take on IT Carlow in the Killarney Sports Centre at 7.30pm tomorrow (Saturday) evening. Stay tuned to the Killarney Advertiser and follow @AdamMoynihan on Twitter for all the latest Lakers news, interviews and video highlights.



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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