Basketball Ireland has announced the head coaches for Ireland’s underage basketball teams for the 2023/24 cycle. Most people would write serious and boring pieces about this. Emmet Ryan is not most people. Here are our grades of the facial hair of all six head Irish basketball underage coaches
A quick note
The elephant in the room here is that all six head coaches are men. The lack of female basketball coaches breaking through to top level roles in Ireland is a concern. It is an area this site plans to deal with in a serious matter in the weeks to come, particularly with regards to the new strategy from Basketball Ireland. For now, we’re just going to dive into this nonsense instead.
Paul O’Brien – Under 16 womenWe are straight out the gate here with a man that is going all in on luxuriance. Basketball Ireland clearly did not want to mess around. There’s really little to dislike here. O’Brien has decided to let it go and run free. He deserves serious props for going all in on maximum coverage. The one negative is where he tries too hard. Those little faded bits in the cheek, cheekburns if you would, don’t work. Tidy those away and it’s perfect.
Paul Kelleher – Under 16 men’s coachEasily the neatest beard on this list, possibly the neatest in all of Irish basketball, but arguably the one with the least ambition. Kelleher keeps it simple and professional from the off. That low-rise finish around the jaw to fade off nicely certainly gets some bonus points. On the whole it’s a good job but not a great one.
Tommy O’Mahony- Under 18 women’s coachThere are a few ways you can go when you have the on top of head hair situation of someone like O’Mahony. Some go wild man and heavily over compensate. Others go far too far and shave their face fully. O’Mahony has a more casual approach that gives an air of authenticity. His look says “I know what a razor is and I’ll use it when I feel like it.” That confidence is always going to be well rewarded here. He’s also responsible for probably the greatest underage success in Irish basketball history. O’Mahony led the same age group to silver in the B division in 2017.
Niall Berry – Under 18 men’s coachIt’s really hard to disagree with anything here. The lightness of shade as it goes up the cheek has me thinking this is what would happen if James Weldon went all-in on a beard. The join is chunky but effective. It’s solid and bordering on great.
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Karl Kilbride – Under 20 women’s coachOh captain my captain. Everything about this is magnificent but it begins with the join. Whether approaching from north or south, it fades and fades before booming into fury. This is the combination that is ideal for reaction shots of a coach at courtside or in timeouts. It’s a photographer or videographer’s dream. When someone with facial hair like this gets emotional, you feel exactly what they are going through. This beard is what Irish basketball needs in its life.
Thomas Walsh – Under 20 men’s coachYou would think I’d be upset here. Walsh clearly never misses a day with his razor. That would normally have him on course for a failing grade in a column like this. Yet look at that hairdo and the all-business face. He’s the one man on this list that may actually lose points for a beard. As it is, he’s solid if unspectacular.
Naturally we wish the best to all six Irish basketball coaches as they prepare their squads for next summer’s campaigns. Unlike this article, which is in no way serious, the commitment of all six of these coaches as well as the assistants and other volunteers in Basketball Ireland around them will be considerable.