WHEN Timmy O’Halloran was appointed basketball coach of Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell in 2018, he knew that the job would be a demanding one.
He took over from the experienced Francis O’Sullivan, but in his own words, nothing beats a challenge. He has played and won silverware at the top level of men’s basketball with UCC Demons and coached Blue Demons to a President’s Cup.
In his first two years, O’Halloran led Brunell to consecutive National Cup finals but came up short and now, after the pandemic break, he is keenly looking forward to the new season.
“I am really looking forward to the season as it feels a very long time since we actually played, but hopefully that’s all in the past and it’s time to move on,” O’Halloran said.
Looking back on the cancelled season he feels his team were very well prepared.
“We had an outstanding pre-season and I was very excited about what I was looking at with my team, but right out of the blue it was pulled and we just had to take it on the chin as people’s lives were more important.”
As society gets back to some sort of normality O’Halloran believes the standard in the league will be high in this campaign.
Brunell were given a huge lift over the summer when it was announced that Edel Thornton was returning to the club; news described by coach O’Halloran as just the injection the club needed.
“Edel is a great person with incredible leadership qualities and right now she is the inspiration in our team for the younger players who look up to her.”
Having a young and inexperienced team is a tough task for any coach, but O’Halloran has full confidence in his squad.
“We are young, but the girls are very committed and I am expecting a big year also from Sinead O’Reilly, Simone O’Shea, and Katie Walsh who are now back to full fitness.”
Training sessions are enjoyable as the mood in the squad is all about positivity.
“You can see the players want to be there and they are striving to improve on a weekly basis and that’s very uplifting for me as coach.”
The fitness level of Brunell was questioned over the years, but that will not be an issue this season.
“There will be no problem in that department as we are training hard and all my players are committed to the cause.”
This season Brunell have signed Shannon Ryan as their victory scholar American and in the last month she has shown real qualities that has lifted the team.
Shannon is a genuine 6’ 4” and that’s a relief as for many years some Americans lose about two inches on the flight to Ireland and I have great belief she will make a serious impact in the league.”
The second American is Quanzah Murray who only arrived this week after being held up with receiving her Covid vaccine, but her college career suggests she will be a good addition.
“Glanmire have the strongest squad in the league and that’s the benchmark we will have to try get to; Fr Mathew’s will also be very strong and the usual suspects like DCU Mercy and Liffey Celtics will be tough opposition.”
Players like Lauren Homan, Mia Finnegan, and Kelly Sexton will all be playing Super League for the first time and Sunday’s opening game against Carlow will be crucial.
“I think getting a win in the first game is important, but Carlow is a side that always has decent Americans and it certainly will be a test for us.”
Amazingly, when Timmy took over the reins at Brunell there were 13 players; how times have changed as only one of his original squad is still at the club.
“Alex Macheta is the only player of my original squad which shows how things can change as there were different reasons, with people not suited to my coaching to others emigrating, but I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier going into a new season.”
On a final note, O’Halloran took time to thank the club sponsor Tomas Singleton.
“The reality is that we couldn’t operate without the generosity of Tomás Singleton and hopefully we will do him proud in the coming season.”