Brunell coach has faith in the underdogs' ability to pull off a National Cup upset

Brunell coach has faith in the underdogs' ability to pull off a National Cup upset
Tim O'Halloran briefs his players. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

WHEN Tim O’Halloran was appointed head coach of Brunell Basketball Club back in August little did he know that he would have a date to fulfil at the National Basketball in January.

Sunday, January 27 will not be normal one for Tim as he is about to lead Singleton SuperValu Brunell to their first ever Women’s Paudie O’Connor National Cup title.

The Brunell chief has never been involved in coaching at this level but his record at the National Basketball Arena both as a player and coach with Blue Demons in impressive.

“First of all getting to a cup final at any grade is the pinnacle of any players career and all I will be expecting of my players is to leave everything on the court as at the end of the day it’s only a game of ball,” said Tim O’Halloran.

The Brunell boss won three cup medals at Super League level with UCC Demons and when he guided Blue Demons to the Presidents Cup title in 2015 it shocked many pundits within the sport.

“I remember going to Dublin as raging underdogs coming up against a top-class Moycullen side with Irish internationals in their team.

“The secret for me was getting the players to believe in their ability and convincing them they were better than Moycullen and the rest is history,” added O’Halloran.

Picture: Larry Cummins
Picture: Larry Cummins

After a year coaching UCC Demons Men’s Super League side O’Halloran wasn’t reappointed and decided to work as assistant coach to Shane Coughlan with Blue Demons U18 team.

Tim has serious belief in his ability to coach and decided when asked to coach again at Super League level that he was ready to give it his best shot.

“I would never have contemplated leaving Demons and to be honest Brunell is the only club I would have moved to as this was a challenge that was hard to refuse.”

Moving to Brunell was always going to be a test especially as O’Halloran had never coached in Women’s basketball in this country.

“First of all I suppose the job has been made easier for me because of the players that are in the squad and I would to thank them for their loyalty and cooperation since I took over as coach.”

All eyes a fortnight ago was at the Brunell and Fr Mathew’s semi-final that attracted a massive attendance to the Neptune Stadium as Tim looked back on that famous night that has made this weekend possible.

“It was very simple I put a plan together but if the players don’t buy into then that goes out the window and I have always said no matter what sport you are involved in it should be all about the players.

“When Fr Mathew’s defeated us in the league I pledged walking out of the Parochial Hall that we would take them in the cup as I learned a lot from that game.”

The Brunell faithful were worried at the start of the season when they suffered three early defeats in the league but O’Halloran never panicked.

“I knew the players I had in the squad and I was prepared to wait for them to gell and after watching them train three times a week it was only a matter of time before we clicked.”

Singleton SuperValu Brunell's Linda Rubene tackled by IT Carlow's Kate O'Flaherty and Felicia Dacruz. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Singleton SuperValu Brunell's Linda Rubene tackled by IT Carlow's Kate O'Flaherty and Felicia Dacruz. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The attitude of the players in Brunell is exceptional according to O’Halloran.

“Look I have a panel and some players are getting little time but I am judged on results and I take it game to game in how I use my squad.

“All season various players have not started and they most likely were a little upset but at the end of the day this Brunell squad is not about individuals it’s about a team.”

One disadvantage for O’Halloran this season was the fact he had little knowledge of the players that were competing against Brunell at this level.

“I will put up my hand and admit not knowing the league held me back as a coach but I am a quick learner and now I know every side.”

Liffey Celtics go into this final as raging hot favourites but with a wry smile Tim believes he prefers going into games as underdogs.

“Look I like my teams going under the radar and that’s the way we will go into this final as we are facing a very good side with two top class Americans.”

In the last fortnight coach O’Halloran has been reminded about how good Liffey Celtics are but he was bullish about the quality of players in his own squad.

“Americans Maddie Ganser and Trish Byrne are two top class players and in Linda Rubene we have an underrated quality lady who has the ability to pose Liffey Celtics problems.

“Our captain Danielle O’Leary has been inspirational this season and if she brings her top game to the table Liffey Celtics will have their work cut out to beat us.”

One man that will certainly be in Dublin on Sunday is the club sponsor Tomás Singleton whose dream of winning the National Cup at the top level of Irish basketball is only 40 minutes of being realised.

“I only got to know Tomás this season and he is real genuine guy and I did promise him after one defeat this season that I would get this team to a cup final and I am glad that has now materialised.”

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