Now the club season has concluded, preparations are ramping up for the prestigious event, which comes on the back of last year’s U18 B Championship in Dublin, where home advantage propelled Ireland to the final against Germany. The Irish were underdogs last summer and will have to defy the odds again at senior level in two months.
Ireland made the final of the Championship for Small Countries two years ago, losing to Malta. They’ve faced Luxembourg and Iceland before and – with Norway and Denmark dropping down from the B grade – are fully aware of the quality across Europe at all levels.
There’s a buzz around basketball again though, helped by the restoration of the national team programme in 2016 after a seven-year absence due to funding issues, but also the competitive nature of the league. DCU Mercy denied Scannell and Ambassador UCC Glanmire a National Cup final in a row in January but the Leesiders rebounded to lift the SuperLeague after the top-four play-off, while Liffey Celtics topped the regular season table.
There will still be a Cork backbone to the Ireland team, with the likes of Claire Rockall and Gráinne O’Dwyer shining on the hardwood for Glanmire at the business end of the 2017-‘18 campaign.
And there will be some serious basketball on display come June. While Ireland might not lift the silverware, with the likes of Thornton, Dwyer and Rockall in action, there will be plenty of moments to savour.
To book a team for the Mardyke Arena UCC Golf Classic in support of the Irish Women’s Basketball Squad on May 3, contact: 0866015657. A team of three is €200 and includes dinner.