The Irish Under 20 women’s basketball team arrived back to dublin yesterday having secured the bronze medal at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championships Division B and also earning promotion to Division A basketball for Ireland at this age group for 2020.
This is something of a golden generation in the making being mostly made up of the same group who almost two years to the day won a historic silver medal win at Under 18 level in Dublin.
That saw Ireland promoted to Division A basketball for the first time in the country’s history. Now, this talented team of players have done it once more, and did so in special fashion, holding off Team GB in the Bronze medal play off match to win by three points.
Captain Claire Melia led by example finishing out the game with with 20 points and 10 rebounds, along with seven assists.
It wasn’t an easy battle with GB though, with both sides knowing each other inside out having met earlier in the tournament at the group stages and indeed, on and off throughout numerous games over the years. Ireland started with a bang though, driving into a 22-7 opening quarter lead, and pushing that out to a 41-24 point half time lead, thanks to superb defense and a high-paced and high-intensity offense.
“I spoke beforehand about those 12 women and what they’re capable of and how good they are together,” said Ireland Head Coach Martin Conroy.
“The first quarter on Sunday was just immense, the dfefense we played holding Great Britain to just seven points and putting 22 up at the other end was just phenomenal. GB are such a good team, they were always going to run at us, and they came right back at us and got it back to one point at one stage, we did the right things though.”
“We don’t have to do much with this team as coaches, as they’re just phenomenal players and there’s such unity there, their will to win is immense. This is twice they have won a European medal and I’m just the lucky one who was given the job to come on board with them and a fantastic staff.”
“We’ve had our ups and downs this week, we’ve a had a couple of losses that we’re probably unhappy with, but the way we bounced back every time, is just incredible. I am so happy for each and every one of them.”
Image credit: Stephen McCarthy, Sportsfile