CORK basketball ace Edel Thornton has been appointed as the new captain of the Ireland senior women’s team.
The Singleton Supervalu Brunell player says it’s “an honour” to take on the role and is joined in the squad by two Leesiders, uncapped Mia Furlong, and Dublin-based Sarah Kenny.
Thornton previously acted as co-captain for the FIBA EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers, alongside Gráinne Dwyer. She will lead the side for the first time on Saturday, when Ireland take on Estonia at the National Basketball Arena, in the first game of their two-game ‘Gotham Drywall Series’.
Ireland also face Estonia on Sunday, before travelling to Matosinhos to take on Portugal on August 13-14.
Thornton said: “I’m delighted, it’s obviously really nice and it’s an honour for me to be captain of my country and captain of a such a good team of girls. I am really looking forward to it and to being a leader for the Irish team.” There are eight potential international debutants in the 15-person Irish squad for the four games against Estonia and Portugal and the 25-year-old outlined her captaincy style among a young group.
“I just want to be very positive. It will be a hard road for us, we’re playing against professionals and we’re trying to build the country up to where we want it to be and that’s the mindset we have to have going into it.
Ireland head coach James Weldon added: “I am delighted that Edel will continue her fantastic leadership role as captain of the squad in these upcoming four games and beyond. She will provide invaluable experience as we continue to develop at this level and Edel always brings a great energy in everything she does.
“These four friendlies are our first games since last November and are vital building blocks for the FIBA EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers against the Netherlands and Czech Republic in November and February respectively.”
Three players from Ireland’s U20 squad at the recent FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship are included in the 15-person squad, 19-year-olds Kate Hickey (Waterford Wildcats) and Kara McCleane (NUIG Mystics), along with 18-year-old Ella O’Donnell.
O’Donnell, who will play at Quinnipiac next season, is one of three US-based players in the squad, with Bronagh Power-Cassidy (Holy Cross Crusaders) and Enya Maguire (Houston Baptist University) also in line for international debuts. The other three potential debutants are Bridget Herlihy, who plies her trade with Swedish club Marbo Basket, DCU Mercy’s Maeve Phelan and Mia Furlong, a treble winner with The Address UCC Glanmire last season.
Áine O’Connor (Liffey Celtics)
Bridget Herlihy (Marbo Basket Sweden)
Bronagh Power-Cassidy (Holy Cross Crusaders)
Kara McCleane (NUIG Mystics)
Claire Melia (Trinity Meteors)
Dayna Finn (Trinity Meteors)
Edel Thornton (Singleton SuperValu Brunell)
Enya Maguire (Houston Baptist University)
Ella O’Donnell (Quinnipiac)
Kate Hickey (Waterford Wildcats)
Maeve Phelan (DCU Mercy)
Mia Furlong (The Address UCC Glanmire)
Michelle Clarke (Killester)
Rachel Huijsdens (DCU Mercy)
Sarah Kenny (Trinity Meteors)
Ireland v Estonia, Oblate Hall, 4pm
Portugal v Ireland, 6pm.
Portugal v Ireland, 6pm.
Ireland v Netherlands, National Basketball Arena.