WHEN you are bidding to help your team win their fifth consecutive Women’s National Cup title there is bound to be some pressure but for the Ambassador UCC Glanmire coach Mark Scannell its all in a day’s work.
Scannell, the most successful coach in Irish basketball is keenly looking forward to the decider on Sunday evening as he reflected the mood in the Glanmire camp.
“Look the bottom line is that it’s the place we wanted to be at the start of the season and I think this is about nine out of the last ten finals we have been involved in but winning five in a row would be very special,” said Mark Scannell.
Getting to the cup final is part of the Glanmire DNA according to Scannell.
“Its just par for the course for some of my players with the elder lemons Grainne Dwyer, Aine McKenna and Claire Rockall all have plenty of cup winning medals in their lockers,” added Scannell.
The atmosphere in the Glanmire camp in the weeks leading up to the cup final is always special according to Scannell.
“I think that’s what makes this group of players unique the fact they have never lost the hunger and the success is down to their extraordinary commitment.”
This season was different to previous as Glanmire were embroiled in appeals as coach Scannell explained the problem that many people are still pondering what the problem really was about the eligibility of Americans prior to the quarter final against Killester.
“It is very simple, we brought in Adily Martucci to replace Alexis Eckles and the rules allowed us to play her in the league but there was a line in the Basketball Ireland rules that state that the American must be a direct replacement to play in the cup.
“We played them both in a league game and despite Alexis leaving us two days later it was deemed Adily couldn’t play in the cup against Killester that forced us to sign Ashley Prim to play against Kilester.
“Look, first of all it has been a tough season for us as we lost a few players and to me the toughest part of my job is trying to accommodate all the young players.
“We don’t have a second team and this year we had a couple of players Hollie Herlihy and Olivia Dupuy going to play with Fr Mathew’s and in fairness they are doing well playing nice basketball and we wish them the very best of luck going forward.
“Trying to marry how to win games with keeping players happy is an impossibility and when I finally step away from coaching that will be one aspect of it I will not miss.”
On the positive side coach Scannell has his eyes firmly fixed on bringing down the might of DCU Mercy.
“The bottom line is that DCU Mercy have defeated us comprehensively twice this season particularly our game in Dublin and although we were missing Casey Grace but that’s not an excuse as one player doesn’t make any team.
“In Cork we played reasonably well against them but ran out of legs against them coming down the stretch.”
The Glanmire chief believes DCU are a real fit side and his team will need to be at their sharpest on Sunday.
“They are an extremely fit side as the one boast I have had over the years was all my teams were the fittest in the league but at the moment I would say DCU are on par if not fitter.
“Just like ourselves in our partnership with UCC our final opponents have the same facilities at DCU and credit to their young side they are very committed to their conditioning.”
In typical Scannell fashion he sounded a word of warning to their Dublin opponents.
“When we prepare as a squad for a final no stone is left unturned and fitness will not be an excuse if we fail to win this final.”
Going into a final as underdogs is unusual for Glanmire but at the moment coach Scannell is happy with that tag.
“It hasn’t happened on many occasions over the last decade but that’s the reality this year and its up to us to respond and prove the doubters wrong.”
So where does coach Scannell feel this final will be won or lost?
“When you look back over the last few years the team who has Irish players capable of bring their game to the table usually win.
“DCU have a wealth of talent like Sarah Woods and Aishling O’Sullivan but I wouldn’t swap the players I have in my own squad for all the tea in China.”
On a final note coach Scannell praised all the sponsors but had special praise for the Ambassador Hotel and its manager Eoin Daly.
“The contribution that Eoin and the management of the Ambassador Hotel have given us this season has been crucial in our progress and from the bottom of our hearts we thank them.”
This is the final that all basketball fans yearned for and although DCU Mercy are hotly tipped to dethrone Glanmire they may have to settle best once again as Glanmire can go into the history books.