Hope springs eternal from Jordanstown to Waterford on the eve of the MissQuote.ie Super League season.
Defending champions The Address UCC Glanmire start their bid for a third championship in succession by hosting one of their main challengers on paper, SETU Waterford Wildcats on Sunday afternoon.
We’ll know where we are come Sunday evening,” said head coach Mark Scannell of the matchup. “Our team is very excited. They’ve worked hard this past month and Wildcats are a team that will bring huge intensity. We’re looking forward to starting at home with this tough game.”
SETU Waterford Wildcats took several steps forward in Tommy O'Mahony's 2nd season at the helm, reaching the InsureMyHouse.ie Paudie O'Connor Cup semi-finals and finishing third in the MissQuote.ie Super League.
"We understand it will be a difficult task its one we relish," said O'Mahony ahead of the contest. "Pitting yourself against the best teams give you an indication of where you are at. Glanmire have some quality players, but we have players on our side we feel are a match for anyone. We can't wait to get the season going and no better way that going to Cork to do it."
Last season’s runners-up DCU Mercy make the trip west to take on University of Galway Mystics without the services of Irish international Rachel Huijsdens. She’s made the switch to FloMAX Liffey Celtics in the offseason and head coach Mark Ingle will need his four new additions to bed in quickly if they’re to avoid an upset against a young, energetic Mystics on their home floor.
University of Galway Mystics head coach Paul O'Brien is relishing the challenge ahead: "Really excited to be back in action tomorrow against DCU Mercy. We haven't had the best pre-season, but I'm happy with the squad we have and having that little bit of experience at the top table will hopefully stand to us."
"We haven't been able to get a great scout on DCU Mercy as they seem to have a different team than last year, but Mark is a great coach and they will be well drilled. Hopefully will be a great game and we can start the season well."
Another Irish international on the move in the close season was Claire Melia. Ireland’s leading scorer in FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 qualifying has joined InsureMyHouse.ie National Cup champions Pyrobel Killester, who should be eyeing improvement on their 10-8 record in 2022 in the coming campaign. FloMAX Liffey Celtics welcome them to Leixlip Amenities Centre on opening day in a game that could see at least six full Irish internationals on the court between the sides.
“We're obviously going into the game as significant underdogs,” said FloMAX Liffey Celtics head coach Karl Kilbride. “Ciara Bracken's injury is a huge blow for us, but we have great depth in the young girls on the team and it gives everyone else a chance to step up. Reading articles online, I think Killester are probably a lot of people's favourite to win the league this year. Adding Claire Melia into the mix of their cup winning team from last year, along with their other pros makes them a really formidable group. Jiselle Thomas looks an excellent signing and Mark is an excellent coach and will know how to get the best out of them."
Portlaoise Panthers first game back in the top tier of Irish basketball brings them up the M1 to Ulster University. Niall Berry returns as head coach for the Laois team who have retained both Alyssa Velles and Jessica Fressle from their MissQuote.ie Division One promotion campaign. Ulster University caught the injury bug early a year ago and they look primed to improve on their 9th place finish in 2023. The Jordanstown outfit have made no fewer than seven additions to their roster, including Irish international Abigail Rafferty who returns from DeSales University in the USA.
Trinity Meteors are the side who’ve undergone the most change during the summer. They’ve a rookie head coach at this level in Hillary Netsiyanwa and without the departed Claire Melia, Dayna Finn, Celena Taborn and the injured Sarah Kenny, Netsiyanwa is placing his faith in a lot of young players as the season gets underway.
"It's great to start the season of with a home game, coming off a successful season with a new team and coach some familiarity is for sure a good thing for us in the journey we are starting," said Netsiyanwa. "We are looking forward to coming up against a strong well established team in Gurranabraher Credit Union Brunell. We've got a couple of Miss Quote.ie Super League debutantes who are excited to get their first taste of basketball as this level."
Gurranabraher Credit Union Brunell in their second season under Liam Culloty’s tutelage will be on hand to take advantage of any inexperience show by their Dublin opponents. Kayja Williams joins from Sanjoanense BC in Portugal to team up with Ireland captain Edel Thornton, while they’ve also promoted a couple of underage internationals in the form of Issy McSweeney and Ava Walshe.
Saturday, September 23rd
1600 | University of Galway Mystics v DCU Mercy, Kingfisher Sports Arena
1715 | Ulster University v Portlaoise Panthers, Jordanstown Sports Village
1730 | Trinity Meteors v Gurranabraher Credit Union Brunell, Trinity Sports Hall
1800 | FloMAX Liffey Celtics v Pyrobel Killester, Leixlip Amenities Centre
Sunday, September 24th
1500 | The Address UCC Glanmire v SETU Waterford Wildcats, Upper Glanmire