Feb 08 2024

Weldon hails “incredible maturity” of players, as Ireland lose 87-57 to Israel

Ireland lost 87-57 to Israel in their FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifier in Riga, Latvia on Thursday. Ireland head coach James Weldon praised his players for their “incredible maturity in how they handled a very pressured week”. 

Ireland will take plenty of positives from the performance, with Sarah Hickey among those to shine, as she picked up 22 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, while there were international debuts for 17-year-old Grace Prenter, Alex Mulligan and Amy Dooley.

Speaking afterwards Ireland head coach, James Weldon, said: “I think for such a young group of players they showed incredible maturity in how they handled a very pressured week, it’s been difficult for all of us, but we kept it tight and kept it together and all I can say is that we did not back down out there today. They’re a good side, a player who played in the WNBA, all professional players. The second half was really good and we’ve got plenty to build on”

Before tip-off the Irish team did not partake in pre-match formalities, as a direct result of comments from an Israeli player, who said the Irish players were “quite antisemitic”, allegations which Basketball Ireland strongly condemned as “inflammatory and wholly inaccurate”.

Asked about not partaking in pre-match formalities, Weldon added: “I would prefer to be talking about basketball and not this, we didn’t engage in the pre-match activities as a direct result of those unwarranted and unacceptable comments from the Israeli camp about our players. It was hugely disappointing, we came here for a game of basketball, we wanted to win, but didn’t come out on the right side of the result on this occasion. We had three international debutants in this game, we’re building a squad, so there’s positives to take from this game.”

Ireland would have been fined up to €80,000 by FIBA Europe, if they failed to fulfil the fixture against Israel, with an additional fine of €100,000 if the return fixture wasn't played. In addition FIBA Europe competition rules would have seen Ireland removed from the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers and the next qualifying campaign, leading to an effective five-year ban.

Once the game got underway Ireland's opponents opened up an early 7-0 advantage. Sarah Hickey’s hook shot, Sorcha Tiernan’s three point jump shot and a pair of Hickey free throws helped Ireland to go level 7-7 three minutes in. Hickey was again clinical from the free throw line in the closing stages of the first quarter, converting both her free throws and Ireland would trail 26-16 by the end of it.

A neat layup from Sarah Hickey, after being picked out by Lauryn Homan, got Ireland’s first points of the second quarter, as Ireland trailed 31-18. The 23-year-old was certainly standing out, the SETU Waterford Wildcats player had 15 points by half-time.

Midway through the second quarter Ireland were 37-26 behind, before a layup from Tiernan and a hook shot from Bridget Herlihy reduced the deficit to 12 points and Ireland trailed 42-30 with four minutes to go in the quarter. Israel would lead 51-32 by half-time.

Amy Dooley, making her international debut, got Ireland’s first points of the second half in the sixth minute of the third quarter, with a layup. It was followed shortly afterwards by Sarah Hickey’s turnaround jump shot, but Ireland were 64-36 behind. Kara McCleane’s pullup jump shot and a late free throw from the University of Galway Mystics player saw Ireland 69-40 behind at the end of the third.

Ireland, who are ranked 80th in the world and fourth seeds in the four-team Group E, kept plugging away against their 49th-ranked opponents. A layup from Sarah Hickey and Ireland were 79-44 with six minutes to go in the game. Debutant Prenter got her first international points with a steal and driving layup with three minutes remaining. A Tiernan fadeaway jump shot from the three point line followed moments later and it was 82-54, with Ireland finishing strongly.

Ireland’s next FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2024 Qualifier is against Latvia on November 7th in Dublin.

Quarter Scores:

Q1: 26-16, Q2: 25-16 Q3: 18-8, Q4: 18-17

Game Scores:

Q1: 26-16, Q2: 51-32, Q3: 69-40, Q4: 87-57


Bridget Herlihy (11), Sarah Hickey (22), Lauryn Homan (0), Áine O’Connor (0), Sorcha Tiernan (11), Amy Dooley (2), Kate Hickey (0), Kara McCleane (9), Alex Mulligan (0), Annaliese Murphy (0), Grace Prenter (2), Abigail Rafferty (0).


Alyssa Baron (15), Daniel Raber (8), Eden Rotberg (16), Jennie Simms (5), Eden Zipel (17), Dorian Dahan Sujic (2), Gili Eisner (0), Daniel Karsh (9), Hila Karsh (3), Offir Kesten-Raz (0), Dor Saar (12), Tslil Vaturi (0)

FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers Results:

Sunday, November 12th 2023

Ireland 48-100 France

Thursday, Februray 8th 2024

Israel 87-57 Ireland

FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers Fixtures:

Thursday, November 7th 2024

Ireland v Latvia

Sunday, November 10th 2024

Ireland v Israel

Thursday 6th February 2025

France v Ireland

Sunday 9th February 2025

Latvia v Ireland