Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Liam McHale: my conscience is clear

The Ballina Stephenites icon recounts his Mayo career, and why basketball success eases the pain from All-Ireland final defeats

The Ballina Stephenites icon recounts his Mayo career, days of winning and losing, the lure of the NBA, memories of getting behind the scenes with Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors, and why basketball success eases his All-Ireland pain.

Liam McHale could have made it to the NBA — those in the know will tell you as much.

The Ballina man himself doesn’t shy away from it. During the glory years of basketball in Ireland — as detailed brilliantly in Kieran Shannon’s book, Hanging From The Rafters — top players were coming from the States to earn a living on these shores.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Other men who would go on to have creditable careers on the courts on the far side of the Atlantic had previously struggled to make their mark in Ireland. Truly, it was a golden era of shooting hoops here.

McHale received offers from the USA’s prestigious NCAA, but Gaelic football had already sunk its teeth into him.

He would go on to win two national basketball cups with his club Ballina (in 1991 and 1996), as well as a Super League title, while chasing Croke Park glory with his county.

The 6’5″ midfielder started four All Ireland finals for Mayo: in 1989, 1996 (including a replay in which he was sent off against Meath) and 1997. During the first clash against the Royals in 1996, he was even named man of the match.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

All-Ireland glory would elude him as a player, as it did with Stephenites in the club final of 1999, but it doesn’t take from Connacht glory or memories of some huge days.

As McHale details in his imitable way throughout this interview, he doesn’t dwell solely on the disappointments.

“Losing All-Ireland will never go away from you,” he says. “You’ll never be happy with that, and you could be sitting with your mates and reading a book and say ‘woah, that point or that goal we missed to win an All-Ireland’ because some of them were that close.

“I feel that I trained as hard as I possibly could, I sacrificed myself as much as possible, and I presented myself for all the big games.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“When it came to the big games, I felt I was always ready and I think my record would suggest that.

“I think I got man of the match in five of the seven Connacht finals, and the only Mayo man to get man of the match in an All-Ireland final since 1951, so my conscience is clear.”

Click play on the video above to watch McHale’s career memories.

📮 Sign up to the OurGame newsletter — a daily email reminder of our latest videos, articles, quizzes and more.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the OurGame YouTube page for live streams and more.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like


How well do you know the Mayo county championship and teams? Test yourself and then share with your friends The Mayo county final between...

Club Talk

Shane Stapleton and Conor McKeon chat through the big issues in Club Talk: Football — from Aidan O'Shea's celebration to the red card for...


"I was amazed by the whole lot of it" was the reaction of Kerry native John Evans to the rivalry between Mayo and Roscommon


Brian Howard, Stephen O'Brien, Diarmuid O'Connor, Ruairi Deane — there is a magical list of wing-forwards lighting up the game just now

error: Content is protected.