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Donaghy “disgusted” by Irish basketball chief’s Raheem Sterling comment

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Adam Moynihan reports

Tralee Warriors and Kerry GAA legend Kieran Donaghy says he is “disgusted” by a Facebook comment made by the CEO of Basketball Ireland, Bernard O’Byrne, in the aftermath of England’s victory over Denmark in the semi-final of Euro 2020.

O’Byrne has since apologised for his controversial remark, which related to Raheem Sterling’s “dive” during Wednesday night’s high-profile match. Under a BBC article about the incident, O’Byrne replied “BLACK DIVES MATTER”, before subsequently deleting the post.

The comment – a play on words on the Black Lives Matter movement – was greeted by uproar in Irish basketball circles with O’Byrne receiving strong criticism online.

A statement released on the Basketball Ireland website at around 11.30pm on Thursday night read:

Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O’Byrne has deleted a recent social media post, which made reference to an incident at Euro 2020. The comment was made from his personal account.

Mr O’Byrne said: “My choice of words commenting on a penalty incident were not thought out. It was an error of judgement and I wholeheartly apologise for the comments.”

Basketball Ireland would like to stress its ongoing commitment to inclusion and basketball’s diverse community, which has been led by Mr O’Byrne in recent years.

For Donaghy, the apology is not enough.

“Phone on fire this morning,” the Kerryman tweeted earlier today. “Disgusted to see this. I’ve worked so hard to promote the game of basketball in Ireland in a positive light as I [love] this game. His comment does not reflect the REAL basketball people of Ireland and I don’t think the rushed apology will cut it.”

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Justin Tuason of the Killarney Cougars was also critical of O’Byrne’s comment and subsequent apology.

“The apology was the most generic one I’ve ever seen,” the Irish-American said. “I almost could have predicted that word for word.

"For a guy who was quick to lay down the iron fist and demand a public apology from a player for a critical tweet directed at him last year, I hope that the same swift and harsh justice is brought upon him.”

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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