IT’S been an unusual season for Ambassador UCC Glanmire in the Basketball Ireland Women’s Super League.
It is a club that’s used to challenging for the major honours, winning seven of last 13 women’s national cups and two of last five league titles in the regular season.
Having lost several key players before the start of the 2018/2019 campaign, including Gráinne O'Dwyer and Claire Rockall, it was always going to be a transitional period for the squad.
But Aine McKenna believes they have performed admirably considering the obstacles they have had to overcome. They still have a shot at silverware too, as they take on Brunell this Sunday at 2.45pm at the Parochial Hall for a place in the semi-final of that competition.
“I thought we did very well, considering all the different things that happened us,” she told The Echo before the final game of the regular season.
“We lost an awful lot of players last year and then in the middle of the season, we lost two of our Americans. We then brought another American in and she got injured so we played an awful lot of the season without two professionals and the majority of the other teams would have two, if not three professionals.
“Our Irish players put it up to every team and it was a great way to keep us going throughout the season. We lost two of our main players who would have been in our starting five, so some of the younger players really had to step up then.
“Some of the players who were on the outskirts of the team and who were pushing for a place in the starting five last year they got a bit more of a chance this year and, to be fair, some of them played really well, which is great for them.”
Glanmire finished their regular season with a disappointing defeat away to Pyrobel Killester last Saturday. Again, the side showed their resilience, but they ultimately came up short as Killester sealed their seventh win in a row, 93-87.
That result ultimately means Glanmire finished fourth in the league standings and McKenna believes they could have gone higher if more things went their way.
“I definitely think we could have done better if we had two professionals for the whole year, we definitely would have been up there with the top two, I think,” she enthused. “If we can get that next year we will definitely be a team to be reckoned with.
“We’ve been unlucky. I know we lost the last four games, I have been injured myself, I have missed the last four games, but we’ve brought in an American now and that has actually helped us a little bit.
“We narrowly lost out to DCU at the weekend, but we have been right there with every team.
“I think if we had the help of two professionals in the middle of the season we would probably be higher up in the league table but it’s still a good sign of our Irish players in how well everyone is doing.
“All our younger players have come on loads and people who wouldn’t have got many minutes last year are playing way bigger minutes now.
“I found it hard to adjust as well because when some of the main players left I had to take more shots and I had to get used to that as well.
“It took a bit of time to adjust to it but we really did start playing well after the first couple of games.”