Basketball: Fiba women’s EuroBasket 2023 qualifier

Trinity, DCU and Killester stars all in Ireland squad

by Aaron Dunne
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Ireland women’s head coach James Weldon has made one change to his 12-person squad from November’s narrow defeat against the Netherlands for Ireland’s FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 qualifier against the Czech Republic on next Thursday in Prague – a game that will be broadcast live on TG4. 

Ireland lost 70-54 in the reverse Group I fixture in November 2021 and currently sit third in three team group, as Ireland seek a maiden qualifying win. 

The group winners and the four best runners-up will advance to the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023, which is co-hosted by Israel and Slovenia. 

Mia Furlong of The Address UCC Glanmire replaces DCU Mercy’s Rachel Huijsdens, who misses out due to education commitments. Furlong, who was named in the extended squad for November’s game at the National Basketball Arena, is averaging 5.9-points per game in 11 appearances in the Super League so far this season.

There’s an air of consistency to Weldon’s squad beyond Furlong’s selection. November debutante Ciara Bracken of Liffey Celtics is once again included, as is Waterford Wildcats Sarah Hickey, who’ll be hopeful of making her international bow on February 9. 

Bridget Herlihy returns after notching 7-points, 4-rebounds and 4-assists on her FIBA Women’s EuroBasket debut, while Orla O’Reilly’s inclusion adds another layer of experience to a group aiming to secure Ireland’s first win at this level. 

Looking ahead to the fixture, head coach James Weldon said: “We are looking forward to our training camp in Prague in preparation for the final FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 qualifying group game. We see this as a great opportunity to build on our recent promising home performance against the Netherlands. 

“The Czech Republic are aiming to qualify for their 15th FIBA EuroBasket finals, so it will be another good test for us on our pathway to competing successfully at the top tier of European basketball.”

Singleton SuperValu Brunell’s Edel Thornton resumes her role as captain in sparkling form domestically. Thorton leads the Super League in points and believes Ireland have what it takes to spring a surprise in Prague: “Our performance in November was really promising and we’re on the right trajectory, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve against the Czech Republic.”

The game will tip of at 4pm Irish time, with live coverage on TG4. 

Ireland Women’s Squad: Ciara Bracken (Leixlip Liffey Celtics), Michelle Clarke (Killester), Dayna Finn; (Trinity Meteors), Mia Furlong (The Address UCC Glanmire), Bridget Herlihy (Mark Basket Marbo Kinna, Sweden), Sarah Hickey  (Waterford Wildcats), Claire Melia (Trinity Meteors), Aine O’Connor (Leixlip Liffey Celtics), Orla O’Reilly (Waverly Falcons, Australia), Edel Thornton (Singleton SuperValu Brunell) (captain), Hannah Thornton (DCU Mercy), Sorcha Tiernan (Leixlip Liffey Celtics). 

FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers

Thursday, February 9th 2023

Ireland v Czech Republic, Sports Hall Kralovka, Prague, 1600 (LIVE ON TG4) 

Image: Caption: Orla O’Reilly will bring some much-needed experience to the Ireland squad. 2023 FIBA Women’s EuroBasket Qualifier, National Basketball Arena, Dublin 27/11/2022 Ireland vs The Netherlands – Ireland’s Orla O’Reilly

Picture ©INPHO/James Crombie

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