Feb 06 2024

Young Irish side showing excellent 'maturity and confidence', says head coach Weldon

Ireland women’s head coach James Weldon believes his side are showing ‘excellent maturity and confidence’ in the build-up to Thursday’s FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifier against Israel. 

“They are the third seed in our group after France and Latvia, so it’s a game we are targeting as winnable, following a difficult first assignment against France. That was obviously a learning curve for us and a fantastic chance to test ourselves against a top-10 team in world basketball,” said Weldon, who selected three uncapped players in his 12-woman squad for Thursday’s contest, which will be streamed by FIBA here.

Amy Dooley (The Address UCC Glanmire), Alex Mulligan (Ulster University) and Grace Prenter (Trinity Meteors) can make it six newly capped players in this FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 qualifying campaign, adding to Kara McCleane, Lauryn Homan and Kate Hickey, who made their debut at FIBA Women’s EuroBasket level against the French in Dublin. “Amy (Dooley), Alex (Mulligan) and Grace (Prenter) have been performing really well in this Super League this season and deserve their chance,” added Weldon. “I think they’ll bring a lot of energy to the group and have already done that so far in camp.” 

Ireland will play the world number 49 side in the neutral venue of Riga at 4pm Irish time, in what will be their second game of Group E. The game was originally due to take place in Israel on November 9th but was rescheduled due to the ongoing conflict in the region. France were the victors at the National Basketball Arena in Ireland’s opening game of the campaign in November.

Speaking on the decision to contest the game with Israel, Basketball Ireland CEO John Feehan said: “We are aware of the intense feeling around this fixture and as we have said continuously ahead of this game, the situation that people in Gaza are dealing with is dreadful and we are all extremely concerned about the events unfolding. Failing to fulfil this fixture would effectively condemn Irish women’s basketball to the wilderness for 5 years, as well as incurring fines of up to €180,000 from FIBA. I’d once again like to praise James Weldon, his staff and the players who have been dealing with a lot of additional off the court attention in the build-up this game.”

A link to Basketball Ireland’s recent statement on the fixture with Israel is available here