Glanmire basketball club: Back on the court v St Mary's Castleisland

Super League action takes place in the Mardyke Arena this Friday 
Glanmire basketball club: Back on the court v St Mary's Castleisland

Glanmire basketball's Aine McKenna in action for Ireland against Andorra. Once again the Kerry native will be a key figure for her club.

MARK Scannell has been counting the days for his team to return to Super League action and Friday night at the Mardyke Arena they will host St Mary’s Castleisland (7.45pm).

Like many other coaches in basketball, Scannell has been frustrated having been side-lined for 19 months and it will be like the good old days at the Mardyke this Friday evening.

“We are no different to any of the other clubs in this country as we had a good preseason last year but to be told a few days beforehand was pretty disappointing. That’s life and we just drove on and here we go again,” said Scannell.

Preparations have gone well as Scannell’s backroom team has kept the squad on their ties.

“Kenneth Clarke and Ronan O’Sullivan are excellent.

Mark Scannell says the pandemic has put sport in perspective for everyone. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Mark Scannell says the pandemic has put sport in perspective for everyone. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The return of international basketball helped some players according to Scannell.

“There was four of my team in the squad and sadly Annaliese Murphy got injured but the effort and commitment given by Claire Rockall, Aine McKenna and Claire Melia was incredible.”

Looking after the welfare of players will be crucial going forward.

“Some players will be fit and others not so fit so as a coach I need to be careful in how I manage the expectations on the fitness levels of individuals as I am hearing injuries are being reported all over the country with various clubs.”

UCC Glanmire are lucky with the facilities at the Mardyke Arena and coach Scannell paid tribute to all concerned.

“The facilities are state of the art from the court to the gym and our players use them sensibly with programmes and we indebted to the Mardyke Arena for their sponsorship in that department.”

The next five weeks will be crucial to all players at levels of basketball.

“What you have is players going from no games to full pelt action and that will be a test so it’s a case for me minding and nurturing my players through the opening month or so.”

UCC Glanmire players Gigi Smith with Rhona Heggtveit, Reservations manager, The Address Hotel and Taylor Claggert.
UCC Glanmire players Gigi Smith with Rhona Heggtveit, Reservations manager, The Address Hotel and Taylor Claggert.

This season Glanmire have signed Taylor Taggart from Canada who last season was signed to play with Galway side Maree.

“Taylor is a good girl who has fitted into the team well and I think that’s half the battle and I am sure she will make an impact in the league.”

The second Glanmire signing is American Gigi Smith and just like Taggart, she has settled in.

“The one plus is that Gigi played with our previous American Sharita Parker in college and is a very good shooter and has come to us with a very good pedigree having had offers from other clubs in Europe.”

Like all clubs who have professionals on their books, the biggest worry will be their lack of basketball recently.

“It will be tough and let’s hope clubs avoid injuries to their professionals and of course Irish players as nobody knows how all this is going to pan out.”

Sadly in recent weeks, Claire Melia’s mother Shirley passed away and condolences go the Melia family on their loss.

Dedication and commitment are two top ingredients in the Glanmire DNA traits that Scannell is very proud of.

“People may talk about achievements in sport and I can categorically say that Glanmire players over many years have consistently gone the extra mile and as a coach, I am very proud to be associated with a club that has produced such wonderful players both on and off court.”

Coach Scannell also believes life has changed completely for everybody.

People have got on with their lives over the last 18 months and it will be interesting when all the players and volunteers get back and it will also be worth noting to see how many people have switched off from our sport. 

"Whether or not it was taking up walking your dog more or spending quality time with your family but life has changed for the majority of people.”

Over the years Mark Scannell has been known as a born-winner but his attitude to life has changed.

“Of course when my players go on court and I am standing off court coaching and intent will always be to win but suddenly I have realised it’s not the most important thing in my life right now because at the end of the day it’s a game of ball in comparison to what’s gone in the world since March 2020.”

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