GAA Football

Gaelic football can learn from basketball - Sean Cavanagh

Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh was a high-flier from an early age - thanks to playing basketball.
Pic: Ann McManus

BASKETBALL is almost a term of abuse in Gaelic football but Tyrone legend Sean Cavanagh believes the latter game can learn plenty positive from the former.

The Moy man is playing a role in promoting the ‘The Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic’, which will take place in Belfast’s SSE Arena from November 29 to December 1.

Although he became a five-time Football Allstar and winner of three All-Irelands with the Red Hands, basketball was Cavanagh’s first sporting love, and retains a key place in his affections.

“I think that basketball has an awful lot of things going for it that we could learn from in Gaelic, says the 35-year-old.

Read More: Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh recalls how basketball shaped his Gaelic game

Basketball’s physicality within the rules and respect for the referee are admirable elements, believes Cavanagh:

“Completely. Ignorant people will say ‘Sure basketball’s a non-contact sport’ – basketball’s a much more physical game than Gaelic, much more physical.

“Whenever I come out of a game of basketball I’m much more sore from people constantly putting pressure on you. Whenever you go up for rebounds, you’re boxed out, guys can legally shoulder you out of the game.

“Whilst you can use your body that road, if you mouth off at the referee, you’re kicked out of the game, if you pull someone’s jersey, it’s an automatic foul.

“It’s got so many things right: if you foul someone in the act of shooting, they’ll get free throws for it, so the whole thing of ‘tactical’ or cynical fouling just doesn’t work in basketball.

“If you cynically foul someone, they go up and have free throws, wherever the foul in on the court. There’s none of this stuff like the GAA where you’re fouling people away from your own goal, trying to slow them down.

“The rules are much more mature, much more refined, much more about rewarding the attacking team all the time. That’s not a bad thing in my eyes.

“See all the crap with delaying, not giving the ball back on the full – and I’ve done it! – which causes rows with boys trying to rip the ball off one another? If the referees were given the tools to punish that right, and did it right, you would cut out an awful lot of nonsense in Gaelic.”

* For more information on the Belfast Classic visit

* See p?? for more from Sean Cavanagh on his basketball days and nights.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: