Lorcan Murphy's highlight reel dunks worth much more than two points to Irish basketball

The Templeogue star has gone viral on several occasions for his athletic prowess.

THE VIDEO OF Lorcan Murphy’s reverse dunk for Black Amber Templeogue during the first round of the 2016 Hula Hoops National Cup has been viewed more than 7,000 times on YouTube and has a further 8,800 views on Basketball Ireland’s Facebook page.

The 23-year-old holds the unofficial crown for best homegrown dunker in Irish basketball. When you watch some of his highlights, it’s very easy to see why.

Some of Murphy’s prowess comes from a youth spent competing at high jump, some is just natural flair. The result is often worth much more than two points when his scores go viral, raising the profile of Irish basketball.

“I put a lot of time and effort into jump workouts as I was a high jumper as a kid,” Murphy told The42 this week.

That’s an element of my game that a lot of people don’t have, so it’s definitely enjoyable to see the fruits of all that hard work being shared around and it’s good for raising the profile of basketball too I think.

“There’s a very similar body type between basketball and the high jump, that long stretched out look, they both complement each other and it’s great that I can take advantage of that.

“And basketball is definitely a sport on the up and up. I know a few years ago it had its troubles with some debts and whatever but we’re out of that now and the level of the sport is improving and I think that Basketball Ireland are really putting some structure into the youth programme in particular.

“When you encourage people to play their way through the age groups, you’ll see people coming up to senior level and you can tell they’ve received top-class coaching and it means they’re a lot more prepared for the demands of Super League, much more so than I was,” he says.

Alex Zurn and Lorcan Murphy Murphy in action against Saturday's opponents UCD back in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

That might be because Murphy was a relative latecomer to basketball and has only played the sport for little over a decade. However, once he started shooting hoops, he knew it was the sport for him.

“I didn’t start playing basketball until first year in secondary school,” he says.

“It was only after I played for my school that I began playing with a club, that was in Bray. Obviously, once I got older I was interested in playing in the Super League so I had to move to Templeogue as there’s no team in Bray.

“From there, I moved up through the ranks but I actually had to play D2 for a year because I joined too late. The year after that I was able to make my Super League debut.

I just love it. I mean, I assume the top-level of any sport in Ireland is competitive, but the Super League seems to have something that bit extra with the Americans coming over, the Europeans coming in and everyone getting better each year and trying to beat each other each week.”

The point guard — a former Basketball Ireland Schoolboy Player of the year — is also an Irish international and, while getting to pull on your country’s jersey is a proud moment for any athlete, Murphy says one of the best parts is that he got to train and play alongside athletes he faces each week in the Super League.

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“Last summer was more of a training get together — we went to Luxembourg and Scotland — but the year before I was with the Ireland team that took part in the Small Nations Tournament in Moldova and I really enjoyed that.

It’s always great to represent your country at anything, especially when it’s a sport you love too.

“And it’s exciting because you’re playing against these guys week after week in the league and then you get to train and play with them for Ireland. It’s definitely a special occasion and something I’ll always cherish.”

Mark Keenan Templeogue coach Mark Keenan. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Murphy has also been lucky enough operate under the tutelage of Mark Keenan, widely regarded as one of the great coaching minds in Irish sport.

“I really enjoy playing for Mark. He’s got a really nice structure in place with the club where he’s willing to talk and compromise and listen to your ideas.

But he loves the game and dedicates a lot time to it. In my opinion, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for.

“It’s all positive with Mark too, he’s always telling you not to dwell on negative things, it’s always about progression and achieving things.”

As for this weekend, Murphy has revenge on his mind as Templeogue have suffered two defeats in two games against Saturday’s opponents, UCD Marian.

“It would be embarrassing to lose to a team three times in one season,” he says.

“Having gone the whole season without beating [UCD] would be terrible I think. It’s definitely fired us up, especially after losing to them just a couple of weeks ago too. If we needed any extra edge, that will give it to us.

I’m just really excited for it. I love the cup final, so I can’t wait. We’re trying to prepare as usual, just trying to put the occasion out of our minds and prepare as normal for the game. That way we won’t over think things.

“In my opinion, it’s the biggest game of the year. It’s definitely the most enjoyable one to play in and it has the biggest crowds. The league is obviously a better test of who the better team is, because it’s over a longer period of time, but the cup is more exciting I think.”

Black Amber Templeogue take on UCD Marian in the final of the Men’s Hula Hoop National Cup on Saturday, 27 January at the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght, throw-in at 8pm. 

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