Nov 09 2023

McCleane called up as Ireland captain Thornton ruled out of France game

Ireland captain Edel Thornton will miss this Sunday’s FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers game against world number 7 France, due to a broken nose. University of Galway Mystics player Kara McCleane replaces her and is in line for her international debut. McCleane, who’s played with Ireland’s U20’s for the last two seasons, joined up with the senior squad on Wednesday evening.

Thornton picked up the injury playing for club side Gurranabraher Credit Union Brunell in the Super League against The Address UCC Glanmire on October 29th. The 26-year-old was ruled out after a scan on Wednesday morning and Claire Melia now steps up as team captain for this weekend’s game.

Ireland captain Edel Thornton in action against Austria during their international friendly last August

Thornton said: “I’m naturally very disappointed to miss out on this game, as we’ve been building towards this for a number of months. Unfortunately the timeline to recover was against me, but I’ll be staying with the group throughout the week and I know that Claire Melia will do a great job leading the team onto the court on Sunday.”

Ireland head coach James Weldon added: “Losing your captain is a blow, but injuries are something all squads have to deal with and that is why we’ve worked hard to build our squad depth. Kara has come through the Ireland underage set-up and has been in excellent form for her club University of Galway Mystics in the Super League. Claire Melia leads by example and was the natural choice as captain for this France game.”

McCleane was previously called up for two international friendlies against Estonia in summer 2022, but didn’t feature on court and she’s excited about potentially making her senior debut against France. “I’m delighted to be called up to the squad, it would be a dream come true to make my international debut and I’ll be working hard in training to get myself ready for Sunday. James Weldon, his staff and the players have been so welcoming. I know plenty of the girls from the Estonia series and I’ve played with some them for Ireland at underage level and against them in the Super League, so that’s helped me settle in”, McCleane stated.

Ireland’s FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers game with France is live on TG4, tipping off at 5pm. Tickets can be purchased for this Sunday’s fixture here.

Ireland Squad:

Jessica Scannell (Geelong United Supercats, Aus), Michelle Clarke, Claire Melia (Killester), Sorcha Tiernan, Áine O’Connor, Rachel Huijsdens (FloMAX Liffey Celtics), Sarah Hickey, Kate Hickey (SETU Waterford Wildcats), Lauryn Homan (Gurranabraher Credit Union Brunell), Hannah Thornton (DCU Mercy), Bridget Herlihy (Ensino Lugo CB, Spa), Kara McCleane (University of Galway Mystics).

Group E Fixture:

Ireland v France, 1700, National Basketball Arena, Dublin, Live on TG4