29 February 2024

~3 minutes read

Ballina’s Deora Marsh to be inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall Of Fame

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Ballina’s Deora Marsh to be inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall Of Fame

It is only fitting that Deora’s contribution to Irish basketball as a player, captain, coach and role model over the last 40 years be recognised by his peers.

Deora Marsh is one of the most beloved and outstanding players to play in Ireland ever since first arriving here in the autumn of 1982.

After guiding North Monastery Cork to promotion to the top flight in his rookie season here, the native of Ashtabula County, Ohio who played D1 NCAA ball with the Southern Mississippi Eagles was then signed by Ballina who he would also inspire to promotion and then in subsequent seasons and even decades help establish as one of the most charismatic and followed and groundbreaking teams in national league history.

In the 1990s they would win two National Cups (1991 and 1996) and the league itself (1992); until Maree delivered the National Cup in 2023, no other side from Connacht had ever won top-flight national honours while Killarney in the early eighties and various Tralee teams over the past 20 years are the only other men’s sides from a provincial town to claim similar honours. Marsh starred and top-scored in all three finals, netting 30, 31 and 32 points respectively and being named MVP on each occasion.

Yet for all the team and individual honours that Marsh mounted up he is best known for all the hearts that he won. Alongside the McHale brothers and Kevin McStay, he would help regularly pack the old barn in Killala where the fervent local support with their bodhráns would beat and sing out the refrain, ‘Dee-oo-ra! Dee-oo-ra!’

What made him such a phenomenal sight was his proficiency at both the biggest statement and most spectacular play you can make on offence – the dunk – and the biggest statement and most spectacular play you can make on defence – the check; in the 1991 National Cup final win over Neptune he had 11 blocked shots.

Marsh could also play below the rim as well as above it; he’d develop a reliable mid-range jumper. But what made him such an enduring and endearing figure was not just his stunning athleticism but his affable, personable manner and his astonishing longevity; although he would have stints in England with Solent in the late ‘80s and return to Cork for a season to play with Neptune in 1994, he’ll be forever associated with Ballina; in 2009, 26 years after his first season with the club, he was still playing national league with them, alongside his son.

Deora and his family still live in his adopted county of Mayo to this day where he has coached and inspired hundreds of underage players, and alongside his former head coach and great friend Terry Kennedy has even coached basketball principles to various GAA teams, including the Mayo senior footballers.

After already being inducted into the hall of fame of his alma mater in Ashtabula County, Deora now deservedly joins his old teammate Liam McHale into the Basketball Ireland Hall of Fame.

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