IT’S now 25 years since Dommie Mullins got involved with schools coaching in St Vincent’s and in that period he’s captured a staggering 25 county titles.
The U19s’ recent victory over Regina Mundi made it 25 in 25 on the local scene and next Wednesday in the National Basketball Arena they’re hoping to add to their 11 All-Irelands. They’re underdogs against a Holyfaith led by Bronagh Cassidy and featuring a number of students with National League experience but that hasn’t dampened Mullins’ enthusiasm.
“This is a very committed group of players. They’ve worked so hard all season and to be honest even though we have talent, no one was really expecting us to get to the final.
“No matter what happens in Tallaght we’re in the top two in the country but believe me we’re not just going up for the bus ride. This is a final and we’ll be ready.”
Vincent’s have a couple of high-profile Brunell players in Irish international Lauryn Homan and Eve Hannigan, a cousin of Neptune duo Scott and James who’ll feature in Tuesday’s U19 A decider with Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG, but they’ll all need to excel to upset Holy Faith.
Orla Murphy, Chloe Morey, Leah O’Mahony and Zoe Mulcahy will be crucial to the cause, along with young guns Amy Cronin and Molly Blount, the younger sister of Jordan, who is currently excelling in college in the US.
Blount has brought an inside dimension to Vincent’s game, which opens up the floor for their outside shooters.
“They all love the game,” said Mullins, “I’ve been lucky over the 25 years that I’ve had kids who put in a huge amount into practice, at school, for their clubs and at home.”
Mullins has an incredible coaching record going back to his time with former Super League powerhouse Blarney and has been at the helm of various Cork teams, but he modestly deflects all praise.
“I’ve been blessed with talent. The likes of Megan O’Leary, Jessica Scannell, Edel Thornton and plenty more. There’s only so much a coach can do during a game in terms of running plays and time-outs, 80% of the work is done before the game.
“I would say I’m an open-minded coach though. I’m always interested in what the players think, if we should go man-to-man or zone, if you get the buy-in from them you’ll achieve a lot more.”
Natasha Homan and Michelle Fitzgerald have been on board assisting Mullins in the backroom in what is already a successful season at senior, though they are short on numbers in first and second year.
“There was a time when we had A, B and C teams but we didn’t have the numbers to enter a team for first and second years and you’d be a bit concerned about that alright.”