THE preparations are complete for Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell coach Tim O’Halloran as he gets ready next weekend to take his side to the capital for a Women’s Super League clash against Killester.
The preseason wasn’t a bed of roses for the Brunell chief as players decided to leave the club but in his own words it’s time for everybody to move on.
Looking back on last season coach O’Halloran believes his side made significant progress.
“To be honest I really enjoyed it as we reached the cup final and finished fifth in the league and overall I felt it was a learning curve for me in my first season coaching at this level,” said Tim O’Halloran.
“This season I want to be a better coach and having gathered experience from the competing clubs in the league nothing will be a shock for me this season.”
Reflecting on the loss of players from last year’s squad O’Halloran believes it was a tough summer for him.
“We lost Amy Murphy and Simone O’Shea who have decided that Fr Mathew’s is a better option for them and there was little the club could do to stop them from moving on.
“In my book players have their beliefs and they are entitled to play with any side they wish but for the likes of Amy Murphy who has been with the club from a very young age it is very disappointing,” added O’Halloran.
Linda Rubene the Lithuanian professional has also moved on and American Maddie Ganser decided to return home after spending two years with the northside club with Kelly Diggin calling it a day on her young career.
The news that Amy Waters is moving to Australia shocked the Brunell faithful as coach O’Halloran tried to put his disappointment into words.
“Amy has come up through the ranks with Brunell from a very young age but is moving to Australia and I am shattered as she was an integral part of our team and it goes without saying that replacing players of her class is almost an impossibility.”
The work that goes into keeping a club like Brunell afloat is incredible and Tim was quick to give the committee of the club credit.
“My sister Ann is chairperson and to be honest when I saw players opting out of the club I felt sorry for the committee and the various coaches that looked after them over many years.” Loyalty among players is sadly gone out the window according to O’Halloran.
“It seems to be the trend right through basketball in this country as players are moving on at a serious rate and in a small city like Cork finding Super League players is not an easy task.
“To be honest when the season finished I expected a break but the whole summer was a nightmare as I was consistently on the phone discussing players and this was something I could have done without.”
In the words of O’Halloran keeping 12 players focused at Super League level is a very hard task.
“When you train two or three times a week and court time is limited some players find it hard to comprehend and in years gone by that was never a problem but nowadays that trend has completely changed.” Looking ahead to the opening game against Killester O’Halloran believes it will be a true test for his side.
“Playing Killester on their home court is always a tough assignment but look I don’t think we should fear them as we have some decent players capable of mixing it with the best.”
This season last year's American victory scholar Trish Byrne has returned and they have also signed Lithuanian Greta Tamaskauskite who is regarded as a fine baller, along with Erin McClure who hails from highly-rated Quinnipiac university.
“Make no mistake there are some very good professionals and Irish players in the Super League and you have got to be ready for every game.”
The commitment needed to compete in the league is something that takes honest endeavour and loyalty especially for Irish players.
“The fitness levels have risen and I can only praise the dedication of my players who are presently working very hard in their preparation for the coming season.
“After losing players it has been a long summer getting a squad together but I couldn’t be happier with the players I have and hopefully we will be able to give our supporters something to cheer about.” D
anielle O’Leary will once again captain the team and her experience will be crucial in the coming campaign.
“To be fair Danielle is a class act and I wouldn’t swap her for any guard in this country and I am confident she will continue to be an inspirational leader for us.”
Coach O’Halloran is confident U18 international Katie Walsh will add another dimension to his squad.
“I saw Katie two years ago and to be honest she has progressed nicely and she will now be given an opportunity on the biggest stage of all at club level.
“Sinead O’Reilly who played with Glanmire but stepped away from the game four years ago has begun training and hopefully she will be another quality addition to the squad.”
So after a frustrating number of months the Brunell chief will be hoping to get off to a winning start and they don’t come much tougher than playing Killester at Clontarf.