Weldon busy preparing Irish women’s team for European competition

Weldon busy preparing Irish women’s team for European competition

Singleton SuperValu Brunell's Edel Thornton takes on WIT Waterford Wildcats' Sinead Deegan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IRELAND Senior Women’s coach James Weldon is working hard putting an program together to give his side every opportunity to qualify for the FIBA Euro Basket 2025. 

They will start training this weekend in Dublin and he has extended his squad adding some young players with plenty of international underage experience.

They will play an very talented Estonia side at the Basketball Arena in the second week in August and then travel to Portugal to play two higher ranked teams in Portugal and Bulgaria.

The big test for the Irish girls is when they face the Netherlands and the Czech Republic in the FIBA Euro Basket 2025 Pre-Qualifier games in November. That will give them the chance to overturn the results from the last time they played those two quality opponents.

“We have two games in Dublin against Estonia (who recently shocked GB in the last window) these will take place the second weekend in August,” Weldon said.

“The following weekend we travel to Portugal to play Portugal and Bulgaria’ all these are friendly games against higher ranked opponents and its exactly what the team needs at moment of our preparations.

“ In November we are at home in the Basketball Arena against the Netherlands in the Euro Basket 25 qualifiers. With Belarus gone from the group we will need to beat the Netherlands by more than they beat us away in Holland last year. We then beat the Czech Republic by more than we lost by the last time played.

“So we really just want to improve on little things form last November and hopefully that will put in the position that we could upset one of those two.

“We have an extend squad at the moment with plenty of youth who are gaining invaluable experience building up to November but also to the next qualifying campaign.

“We are lucky to have Gotham Drywall’s as sponsors, their support has really helped put us in a position put together a really challenging summer of development."

The current Irish captain is Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell’s point guard Edel Thornton and she is looking forward to a busy few months.

Thornton always leads by example on both side of the floor is now one of the more experienced players on the squad even though she is only 25-years-old. She is a real leader on the court, however, off the court she is a very humble young girl. She knows that it will take a big effort to overturn the two results in November, but she thinks that the overall experience will stand to the team going forward.

"We are back training this weekend and I can’t wait to start to be honest. I am really honored to captain my country as its always very special to play in the green jersey. It’s a bit unreal that now I’m one of the most senior players on the team as only two years ago I made my senior debut.

"This window is a real eye opener especially when we only playing in the Small Countries and a couple months later we were playing to qualify for the Euro Basket 2025. There’s a huge difference in the standard of basketball from what the team is used to, as all the teams at this level are full of professional players. 

"Last year we didn’t have much time to prepare for the last window and didn’t have a season of basketball behind us with Covid, however, this time the coaching staff have a really good training camp prepared for us. That gives us more time to adjust to playing higher ranked competition and ten weeks of solid practice together which will hopefully stand to us in November.

"The team is currently in a rebuild with some of our underage International younger players coming into the squad. Having saying that a lot of those girls have plenty skill and have done really well on U18 and U20 programs in the last few years.

"Personally for myself I would be delighted to get a win in one of the games in November as we are playing to quality teams, however, I think all the players will gain valuable experience that will stand to us for future competitions.

"Regardless the results I hope all the players will enjoy and learn from playing at this level as it should be a huge boost for women’s basketball in the country."

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