City Desk

When Ireland Was Hungry for Basketball…

Maryland All Stars in Cork, Ireland in 1981. From left to right: Front row-Bill Ruback, Mike Brey, Jim Hoops, Hank Schultz, Steve Karr. Back row-Wayne Talbott, Brian Magid, Malcolm Wellelink and Paul Devito.

For the increasingly sober print platform of Washington City Paper, I wrote a column this week about a short-lived hoops squad called the Maryland All-Stars.

The All-Stars were really just a gang of D.C.-area basketball buddies, including future Notre Dame coach and SI Coach of the Year Mike Brey, who landed in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day in 1981 as part of a junket that was supposed to have the Yanks' schooling the Irish on America's court supremacy.

The trip didn't work out as intended from a sporting or schooling standpoint, but, boy, did the lads have a time!

The athletic ambassadors' stories of, um, drinking in the local color and getting jobbed by the hometown refs — tales which turn 30 years old this week — will have me giggling forever.

And to have Brey, the All-Stars' guard who was hailed during his time in Ireland as the Americans' "coach on the floor," end up coaching a team called the Fighting Irish to such heights all these years later, well, the perfectness of it all gets me goosebumpy!

So go read the story! And tell me there ain't a movie in there!

And, of course, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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