Current Maree basketball and former Irish international Michelle Fahy, has given a frank assessment of life as a basketball player abroad. Speaking on Episode 3 of ‘Bench Talk’, Basketball Ireland’s new interview series, Fahy who spent four years in New York on a scholarship with Iona College, said it was tough at times.
“It was a small Irish college outside New York City. It is tough. Many have gone for a few months or even a year. My first year was difficult too. You’re getting used to new culture, food - of course I would have to say food because I love food! New teammates, new coaches, being away from home. Again this is how old I am but there was no social media, no Facebook, no Snapchat, no Instagram nothing, only email.
She gave some advice to anyone who may get that opportunity.
“I always say do it, and if you don’t like it you can come home. I know it is tough and you have to get used to the coaches over there. They are under pressure to win. If they don’t win they lose their jobs. But yeah go, do it, if you don’t like it come home, but give it a good shot. I remember the first Christmas I was home and I was balling at Shannon airport not wanting to go back. By year 4, I didn’t really want to go home, but my visa was up I had to go!”
Fahy had a stint in Switzerland before injury ended her time there, returning to Ireland. She was enticed to Glanmire by Mark Scannell. She admits that when she came back to Ireland to play in the Super League she felt the burden of expectation on her shoulders.
“I didn’t really know the Super League really. Before I joined Glanmire I had never seen a game when I was at home, obviously before college. When I joined Glanmire I just put extra pressure on myself I think, because there is an expectation of me to be good, as in – you went to the States, stop missing lay-ups, stop missing easy jump shots, because come on there’s people watching.”
Fahy has since gone on to win numerous Superleague and Hula Hoops National Cup titles. She says that Tallaght is her favourite Arena to play in, “I have never lost a final in Tallaght, any final I have played in - from 1999 on - I won. So Tallaght is a special place for me.”
She also revealed that the toughest opponent she’s faced is Leah Westbooks.
“We played Killester with Maree and I wanted to say it to her after the game but I didn’t get a chance to but Leah Westbrooks’ defense from Killester, just, I hated playing Killester when she was marking me. She was quick, she was strong, she literally knew what move I was going to do before I did it. As a whole, as a team with Glanmire it was always DCU Mercy, there was always a rivalry there.”
Fahy was spotted at a Hula Hoops National Cup game between Waterford Wildcats and UU Tigers last January with a saucepan and wooden spoon in hand and interviewer Jacqui Hurley asked her to explain.
“There was loads of Waterford fans at the game and this girl brought a Saucepan and a Wooden Spoon and I was like deadly. Then one of her own club mates, an older guy told her to stop banging and I was like we’re in Tallaght, if you want to go somewhere quiet, go across to the pub! The girls had a tough time, they lost a few games and they needed to win this one. I have a lot of friends on the team, coaches and that and I was like give me that Saucepan so there I was, banging, banging the saucepan and Wildcats won the game!”
Fahy, who lost her dad and wife Claire in recent times, gave some solid advice to the basketball community and people from all walks of life.
“Never give up, since playing on Irish teams from U15, U16 all the way up, ask Niamh Dwyer, Kate Maher, especially playing for your country, we are the fighting Irish for a reason, you just literally can never give up. It doesn’t matter if you are twenty points down, you’re diving on loose balls, getting rebounds, doing the dirty work until you hear final buzzer. Anything is possible, just never give up. My thing now, recently from the last 2 years is, live your life, stop putting things off. You don’t know what is around the corner. If you make plans, make them for soon. Just live your life, have fun and keep smiling.”
Watch the full interview below: