Hunger won’t be a problem for us, insists McKenna

Áine McKenna: Played through the pain barrier in last year's decider.

Women’s National Cup Final
Killester v Team Montenotte Hotel
Tonight: National Basketball Arena, 6pm
TV: TG4

When Team Montenotte won the 2014 Women’s National Cup against favourites UL Huskies one player became an overnight heroine.

Listowel born Áine McKenna hit 14 points in the fourth quarter to force extra time and paved the way for a sensational win.

Fast forward 12 months and the Cork side are back in the final where they face Killester at Basketball HQ this evening.

But McKenna doesn’t feel their thirst for glory is any way diminished by last year’s success.

“I think any cup final is 50/50 as there is so much at stake,” she said. “Usually the team that ends winning want it more and there is still lots of hunger in our squad.”

McKenna showed that hunger in spades last year, playing with a broken bone in her foot.

“I hadn’t played for a month. Niamh Dwyer got into foul trouble and then I came on and shot the lights out. Maybe I should have bought a EuroMillions ticket on that day! The elation of winning the cup was something I will never forget and with Gráinne Dwyer giving an exhibition we dug deep to win against the odds.”

McKenna’s basketball career began with Presentation Listowel before she teamed up with Glanmire after moving to Cork to attend UCC.

The McKenna family, led by parents Sheila and Timmy, will travel from the Kingdom today hoping to see their daughter win another title.

“My parents are special and have followed my career from day one and it will mean to so much to them if they witness me winning another national title.”

Standing in the way of that dream is a Killester side coached by Mark Grennell. He too would dearly love to be standing on the rostrum tonight.

He explained: “I have been involved with this team for the last 10 years and with only one national title to show for our efforts I thing we are overdue an evening on the winner’s rostrum.”

This season Killester recruited two Americans in Robin Murphy and Olivia Lee and with talented Irish players Mimi Clarke, Aishling O’Sullivan and Allison Maguire they are capable of toppling the champions.

“We have not played to our potential this season and were lucky to reach the final as we stole the semi from UL Huskies. But now is our chance to give our supporters something to cheer about. All I will be asking my players to do is believe in their abilities because when you reach a final of this magnitude you have got to enjoy the occasion and hopefully come out on the winning end.”

Verdict: Team Montenotte.


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