By Declan King
Following last season’s incredible treble in Super League Women’s Basketball Courtyard Liffey Celtic have been busy over the close season and have just recruited the highly talented Laura Mullally as their head coach.
The young mum of one daughter, Leeloo, has taken up the reigns and is raring to go as she told the Dublin Gazette during the week but, firstly, she spoke to us about the people who influenced her growing up.
“My mom and dad were amazing and, as both came from basketball, they understood what it meant to me.
“My teenage dream was to go to the USA on scholarship. At this stage, I was at Our Lady’s Bower in Athlone but I needed to play at a higher level to achieve my dream.
“My dad was friendly with Eamon Molloy at Killester and I joined them. Dad brought me up and down but it was worth it as we won two leagues and a cup and I improved as a player.
“I was recruited to Dowling and, despite early home sickness, my coach Joe Pellicane believed in me and I was getting good minutes as a freshman by the Christmas.
“While I was there from 2001-2005, we won our conference and went on to the NCAA finals. I then became an associate head coach as I studied for my Masters.
“Joe left and came back again. He really taught me so much about coaching, life and building a family atmosphere. My family and my faith are so important to me. Dowling was my family home from home.
“I moved to Chestnut College and spent four years there. For a school that was not heavily funded, we did amazingly well, I had so much fun and perhaps we over achieved. I then moved to Mount St Vincent’s for a short time but it was in my mind that I wanted to go home.
“I had a mountain bike accident and after two knee surgeries I discovered acupuncture, the new love of my life.”
So now you are back in Ireland, let’s take up the Laura Mullaly story.
“After spending many years studying, playing basketball and coaching in the States, I decided a couple of years ago to come home to Ireland to set up an acupuncture business www.laurajane.ie.
“I began watching how the Super League was going but it was really out of the blue when I got a call, via my parents, from Joe Tiernan to chat about the vacant coaching job at Liffey.
“I met up with Joe and Annette O’Toole We discussed what they had in mind, what I might bring to the table and I left with a job offer” said Laura.
“I jumped at the gig. It is a huge job but I will be looking at things with fresh eyes.
“It is a massive challenge but I felt I was joining a big family and that is exactly how I felt when I left Moate 18 years ago to go to Dowling College in New York.”
It is refreshing to chat with Laura and she seems to tick all the boxes for a successful young coach here in the Super League in Ireland.
“We had a tough tournament in Carlow last weekend but by the end of the second day I could see great improvement.
“Firstly, it is great to go to work with a smile and that is how it is for me driving from the Midlands to Leixlip four nights a week for practice. I hope to be able to impart some of the things I learned in America on to the girls”
“We have enough talent to do really well and I have full confidence in the squad.
“Our Americans Darby Maggard and Kylee Smith both played for Belmont University and that is a huge plus for us as they know one another so well. Kate O’Flaherty has joined us from IT Carlow and that will be a big help”
“We have a tough one to start off with at home to DCU Mercy on Saturday at 7 but we will be ready. We will be a fun team to watch and we will play an up tempo game sharing the basketball around”
“One of the things that appealed to me about the job was that I would be a woman empowering women through basketball and I have told this to the players in the club right down to the kids.
“As I said, I am a young mother with a five year old child and if I can do it so can they” beamed the new coach.