Kieran Donaghy's Tralee wary of sharp Swords in Champions Trophy
DAVE BAKER’s playing career was cut short by a heart condition after the promising young player moved to America for basketball.
“It was a viral cardiomyopathy, like sudden-death syndrome of the heart but it was caught it in time. I was told that I’d never play again so I had to pack it in,” the Griffith Swords coach said.
The setback spurred the Dubliner on to take up a coaching career and success followed when he returned home from Coastal Carolina University.
Baker developed Swords into top flight title contenders from the ground up, while juggling duties as Ireland U-20s coach and scout with NBA side Orlando Magic.
Considering this, Garvey's Tralee, who effectively ended his side’s league title dreams last month, will be wary of a wounded Swords in their Champions Trophy semi-final today.
Baker already used the hurt from last year’s Cup final defeat to lead the Dublin side to National Cup glory in January.
“For me it wasn’t the loss to Tralee that cost us (the league title), it was losing to UCC Demons at the start of the season. Other years losing only two games would have won us a league,” he added.
“Look, we would love to beat Tralee, they’re a very well coached side. And hopefully if we make it through to Sunday’s final, and beat (title winners) Templeogue in the final that would be great."
Baker praises Tralee’s Kieran Donaghy who his team will meet in today’s semi-final (6.0) in Letterkenny IT.
“He’s been getting a lot of positive press but a lot stick as well. Some people are saying it’s just promotion for the game. It’s a media thing,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in coaching in the last 22 years, and I can tell you, while Kieran is ageing he’s still a very good basketball player. He’s smart. He’s athletic.
“He does the same stuff nearly all the time. I say to the players, ‘look at the tape, he’s going to spin to the middle,’ or do this or that. But they can’t stop him.”
In the other semi-final, Templeogue take on UCC Marian (4.0) also in LYIT for a place in tomorrow’s final (4.0).