Sunday 26 March 2017

Randolph sets sights on hoop dreams after Euros party

West Ham and Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph
West Ham and Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph

Barry Lennon

As Ireland 'keeper Darren Randolph faces Austria in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier, his brother Neil will be in action for Super League leaders Templeogue against Belfast Star.

The Bray man has enjoyed an unbeaten start to his first season in Irish basketball's top flight, helping them to five wins in the competition. The 24-year-old returned home to play after honing his skills on court while studying at Elmira College in upstate New York and a year at Newcastle's Northumbria University.

"(Going away) was a leap of faith. I just didn't feel there was much for me here. But coming back I realise there is," Randolph says. "There's a professionalism that I didn't expect from the Irish league that Templeogue have. But obviously never playing here, I didn't know that."

Appearances

Basketball is a family affair with father Ed (from the US) having played in the past under his son's coach Mark Keenan.

Ed, who was one of a wave of Americans who came to Ireland to play in the 1980s, introduced both Neil and Darren to the game.

However, one of the family's best known sporting appearances was in soccer last year during the West Ham 'keeper's dream international debut in a 1-0 Euros qualifier triumph over Germany.

As his older brother set up Shane Long's winner, Neil, then in England studying for a business master's, had gone to the shops not expecting him to have stepped up for an injured Shay Given.

However, Randolph made up for his absence by travelling to the Euros during the summer to cheer on the Boys in Green. He too aims to represent his country having been named in a preliminary Irish basketball side, but he has yet to line out.

"For now I'll keep working and we'll see how that goes," he says.

Irish Independent

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