Monday, May 20, 2024

Meet the 6ft 8 Wexford teenager with hoop dreams of the NBA – ‘Basketball has given me a reason to live again’

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Having overcome quite a bit of adversity in his young life, Cormac Gallagher (16) is fundraising to get himself to an AAU Boys Basketball tournament in the US

The young Wexford man has allowed none of this to hold him back from his passion however – basketball.

“Basically, I have constant growing pains,” Cormac says of his EDS. “It means that I can pick up injuries to my tendons and joints and it can be really sore.

Basketball player Cormac Gallagher

“I’ve been offered medication for the pain, but I choose to remain medication free. The basketball has really helped me with it. It takes my focus off the pain and reduces flares of the EDS by keeping me active and keeps my joints flexible.”

At 6ft 8, Cormac certainly stands out among most 16 year-olds. He plays with the local Wexford Basketball Club where he trains a couple of times a week, but pretty much any free time he has is spent with a ball in hand at the court or watching the greats at work, like his favourite player Kevin Durant.

While plenty of young lads have sports that they are passionate about, for Cormac basketball means something more. It’s become a means of coping with what life has thrown at him ever since he lost his father at seven years-old.

Basketball player Cormac Gallagher

“I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety since my Dad passed away,” Cormac says. “I went through a really bad time during lockdown. Basketball has given me a reason to live again. It gives me everything to look forward to. It’s my sole focus in life at the moment.

“Obviously I need to have a back up plan too, but for the moment I’m just putting everything into basketball.”

Owing to his size and skills, Cormac has recently begun training with the Aidan Igiehon Academy. Run by Dublin native and current US college basketball player, Aidan Igiehon, it aims to help young Irish basketball players to improve and give them the best possible chance of capturing the attention of college scouts.

It’s through the academy that Cormac has been offered the opportunity of showcasing his skills in America and he’s now fundraising in a bid to make a dream become a reality.

“I have the opportunity to travel to America to play with the Academy at an AAU tournament,” he explains. “There’ll definitely be college scouts attending the games, so it would be a really big chance to showcase what I can do.”

While he shrugs and laughs off any suggestion of reaching the lofty heights of the NBA, consigning those notions to dreams, for Cormac the focus would be on obtaining some kind of college scholarship to play basketball, be it in the US or elsewhere.

The young Wexford man’s fledgling basketball career has come at some expense so far, however. The costs involved in membership of the academy, combined with travelling up and down to training sessions in Dublin take their toll on the family finances.

His mother Claire has been supportive of Cormac’s passion and has already paid over €2,000 of the €3,500 cost of the American trip, but he is hopeful of fundraising that last chunk to get him on the flight.

“It would be great to be able to help my Mam support me in this journey,” he says.

A typically shy teenage boy, Cormac hasn’t quite got the brash and cocky streak common in many of basketball’s brightest young starlets, however, he is confident that he can hold his own in the AAU tournament.

“I think because of my age and height I can stand out a bit anyway,” he smiles. “It’s everything I’ve wanted. When I’m playing, any pain I have just goes away.”

You can support Cormac’s basketball journey by donating here.

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