THE Address UCC Glanmire will be hoping to win the Paudie O’Connor Women’s National Cup title when they clash with great rivals DCU Mercy on Sunday at the National Basketball Arena.
For coach Mark Scannell, getting back to the final was his team’s goal from the start of the season, but it has been a difficult campaign.
“It has been one of my toughest seasons in many years that I have ever encountered, as we were well set up pre-season, but with Covid, it has been difficult keeping all my players safe,” said Scannell.”
Glanmire began the season with Americans Taylor Claggett and Gigi Smith, but it didn’t go to plan for this duo.
“The American scene has been tough, with people not settling, and when homesickness kicks in it can be very difficult for your professionals,” added Scannell.
Scannell replaced Claggett with Carrie Shepherd, who has been a revelation, but after replacing Smith with Jarlyn Duran, she decided that she couldn’t settle before Christmas and returned home to the States.
Having a plan for the season is his priority. “The first part is getting to play and the middle part is all about being in a good league position at Christmas and qualifying for the cup final and now we are in the final push, where the silverware will be up for grabs.”
The spirit in the Glanmire camp is high and that’s encouraging for any coach.
“This present squad are a dream, as we have great camaraderie and the team spirit is spot on and, as a coach, it’s a great feeling when you have those traits in your team.”
In recent weeks, fringe players like Mia Furlong and Amy Dooley have been making telling contributions off the bench and coach Scannell is delighted all his players are singing from the same hymn sheet.
“It has been great to see the improvement in players coming off the bench and with all my experienced players firing on all cylinders, we have found a new lease of life.”
Some of the greatest players in Ireland have represented Glanmire.
“When the likes of Michelle Fahy, Marie Breen, Donna Buckley, Denise Walsh, April Cahalane, Nollaig Cleary, and the Dwyer sisters, Grainne and Niamh, all who made our club standing what it is today in Irish basketball.”
The new players in the Glanmire squad are also very talented.
“Claire Melia joined us this season and is a generational type of player, who is used to leading and scoring and she has been a breath of fresh of air. I think Claire is the one player that doesn’t have to dominate the scoring to make an impact in a game and she does so much with our young players at training always encouraging them.”
Scannell praised all his squad. “Amy Dooley, Miriam Loughery, Amy Dooley, Leslie Ann Wilkinson, and although Louise Scannell and Annalise Murphy are injured, they are still an integral part of my team.”
In the semi-final win over Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell, Glanmire had to battle through with only seven players and with only one American.
“We were 12-2 down after three minutes, but never panicked and once we made a few adjustments, the girls found their true form and, in the end, were comfortable winners over a good side.
Aine McKenna has been sensational and, along with Casey Grace, has led by example all season.”
The volunteers and sponsors have been key to Glanmire’s success and coach Scannell praised their loyalty and generosity.
“Our main sponsor is The Address and many thanks to the general manager, Eoin Daly, and his staff, for their incredible loyalty to the club and let’s hope we can repay them with a win in this cup final. Europcar and Liam Ryan, of Ryan’s Supervalu, have been very generous over the years and again my thanks to all of them.”
The club volunteers and committee are also key players in the Glanmire club.
“There are many hard workers in our club but for Timmy Murphy, Connie Allen, and Jimmy Roche, who consistently are there for any job that’s needed done, I would like to thank them.”