Tony McGaharan @TMcGaharan
Tony started playing basketball when he was 11, after realising that he couldn’t kick a ball. Enjoying every opportunity to be around the game, Tony is a current player (Queen’s Hornets), referee (Ulster Leagues), coach (QUB Women, Queen’s U16A Girls) and assistant coach (Ulster Rockets). In 2009, Tony was recruited to become the Head Coach of the KFUM Umeå Comets, a women’s team competing in the Damligan (Sweden’s premier women’s league). Since then, Tony has returned home and is enjoying working as a Project Coordinator with PeacePlayers International, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to unite, educate and inspire young people in divided communities through basketball.
Niall McDermott @nzamcdza
Niall started to attend St Columb’s College in 1995/96 – the same year the school won their first All-Ireland title. Inspired by this and the fact that a) you just had to show up to get on the team, and b) once on the team you missed crazy amounts of school, he decided basketball was the sport for him. He went on to play under the Friday night lights of the Riversdale leisure centre in Strabane for N.T.A.S before being one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He then played for Queen’s University and Club teams before returning to Derry in 2007 to play for North Star. He has coached at a variety of levels from primary school children to senior men’s teams. He is currently a player/coach with North Star in the Premier League and also coaches the u18 and u20 boys squads.
Fiona Sullivan @sneakybear
Inspired by a childhood of watching American TV shows, Fiona jumped at the chance to join the school basketball club when the opportunity arose. Those idyllic lunch time practices were a welcome release from seemingly endless days of English, Maths and Geography. She went on to continue playing for Queen’s University Club and Varsity teams and still hasn’t left them. Fiona has been involved in various aspects of basketball life, acting as women’s Ulster League Convenor, statistician, coach, and player (though not all at the same time – she can multi-task, but that would be ridiculous).
Colm Heaney @colmheaney
Colm is a journalist and hoops junkie. He played in high school for the Archbishop O’Leary (Edmonton, Alberta) Spartans. Since then, he has graced the rosters of noted men’s league teams such as the Avenue Pizza Fogduckers and the Belfast Tropics. He has contributed to a number of publications and websites ranging from The Irish News to The Basketball Jones and currently lives in Belfast, where he works as a sub-editor for the Irish Mirror and contributes to the Daily Mirror’s basketball blog.
John Wynne @John_Wynne
John has been surrounded by basketball from the day he was born, with both parents (Anne and Sean) being successful players and with one (Sean) still playing – against doctors orders – it would be near impossible for John to not have been influenced by it all. Be it the baby bibs with Mickey Mouse dunking on Daffy Duck or the framed pictures of Larry Bird and Charles Barkley that hung around his crib…never-mind the countless number of games he sat courtside watching his parents play ball. A member of Queens basketball all through his junior years, and playing basketball for St.Pats College Knock under the famous one, Coach O’Neill, John made the move to University of Ulster and joined the club and varsity team. After two years away from the game (one in the States and another in dreaded final year) it is with great joy to many that John, A.K.A. J-Whizzle, is back playing with Queens Basketball Club. Oh and he won a show called Total Wipeout…
Andrew Sanders @sandersandrew
Andrew was something of a latecomer to the game of basketball, having given up rugby after leaving high school. Joining Edinburgh’s fabled Pentland Tigers, he quickly moved on to the East Lothian Peregrines in the Scottish national league before moving to Belfast where he played with Queens and then with Belfast Star. After a year in the superleague, he moved back to Scotland and played with the Scottish Rocks in the BBL. He “retired” (the McDermott rule for using the word “retire” instead of “stopped playing” does require you to have been paid to play, so technically he retired) and moved to Seattle where he began life as an academic, which currently sees him working at University College Dublin. He is a legitimate non-frontrunning Miami Heat fan, having taken up following the team in 2001.
Ryan Hayes @hayesrr
Ryan is a sports fanatic who came late to basketball having tried his hand at rugby, football and cricket in his formative years. He played in Ballymena for ten years, representing Team Grouse/Team Blackstone and has served as de facto Assistant Coach there in recent times. For nine of those years, Ryan led the Blackstone youth programme and assisted Paul McKee at St Patrick’s College, where they were crowned All-Ireland Schools champions in 2009. He has also introduced basketball to schools such as Limavady Grammar, Coleraine Inst and Ballymena Academy, where he currently works as an English teacher. In 2011 Ryan realised basketball was at its most beautiful played at a fast pace and subsequently hung up his one-speed Nikes. These days, he sticks to running, football and jujitsu.
Daryl Harkin @darylh4
Getting tired of all the standing and waiting around on the football pitch, Daryl turned to basketball around the age of 15 and hasn’t looked back since. A former student of St. Columb’s College, he later moved on to the University of Ulster (Magee) while he also played basketball in the NAIA in the U.S. during his time as an exchange student at King College, Tennessee. He has remained faithful to his local club, North Star, throughout his time playing basketball in Northern Ireland and has coached and refereed in both the Senior and Junior leagues. Daryl is a current member of North Star’s premier league squad.
Paul Bullock @paulz75
After a successful schoolboy career in St. Malachy’s College, Paul moved on to on/off stints as a varsity player and local league player for UUJ. Having completed his refereeing course as a junior in summer 2000, and doing the odd game in Belfast, Paul soon realised that he was becoming a better official than he ever would be a player. He hung up his boots for the preference of a whistle in 2004 and began refereeing consistently as part of the National League Panel. In 2006, he won the “Young Referee of the Year” award from Basketball Ireland (exactly 100% more awards than ever received while playing) and in 2008 moved to the panel of referees for the Irish Men’s Superleague where he has been a regular fixture for 4 seasons.