Ireland’s first Senior International in European Competition since 2009 ended in a win as the Women’s side beat Wales 84-43 in the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries in Gibraltar.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that Ireland took a firm hold on the game with some players ‘trying a bit too hard’ in the opening exchanges according to Head Coach Mark Scannell.
“We were a bit raggedy getting used to playing with each other for the first time competitively at that pace in this heat,” he said.
“We got everyone on the floor in the first half and the contribution off the bench kept us ticking over.” Ireland had 33 points in total off the bench, but missed 17 chances in the first half. 16 second-chance points proved the difference in earning a 41-27 lead at the break.
Ireland added accuracy to acceleration in the third quarter and with the shooting stats rising from 44% to 57%, a 20-0 run soon followed.
Michelle Clarke came in to hit three-pointers and Aine O’Connor’s stunning block led directly to another Sarah Woods fast break.
Scannell believes a better start to the next game is paramount with a semi-final berth on the line against Moldova: “We missed opportunities around the ring that we’d normally get. Once the chippies start to fall, we’ll be an awful lot better.”
Ireland: Aine McKenna* (8), Sarah Woods* (19), Claire Rockall* (6), Grainne Dwyer* (6), Aoife McDermott* (12), Casey Grace (10), Amy Waters (8), Danielle O’Leary (7), Michelle Clarke (6), Sinead Deegan (2), Aine O’Connor.
IRELAND’S Group A in the men’s competition was all too easy as Gibraltar went down 102-43 in Chisinau, Moldova. The facile win still gave the chance for 11 players to make their Senior international debuts on the team’s return to the European stage.
Kyle Hosford connected with his first three-point attempt to open the scoring and made it a hot-start by following up with a mid-range jumper to settle the contest early. The Demons Point Guard went on to finish with a game high 15 points while Colin O’Reilly finished with a double-double of 10 assists and 13 rebounds . The Player Coach is the only member of the squad to have competed previously in Europe.
A 12-0 run put Ireland on the way to a 30-14 lead for the first quarter and a similar second period had them 59-23 clear at half time. The bench helped step on the gas again in the third quarter with a 14-0 run behind good contributions from Lorcan Murphy and Paul Dick. The outside shooting percentage held at 45% including 4 three-pointers from Irish American Brian Fitzpatrick and another pair from from Ciaran O’Sullivan.
Malta are up next for O’Reilly’s men and are expected to put up a much stiffer test of trophy winning credentials.
Ireland: Kyle Hosford* (15), Stephen James* (2), Ciaran O’Sullivan* (8), Colin O’Reilly (6)*, Brian Fitzpatrick* (14), Adrian O’Sullivan (9), Paul Dick (14), Lorcan Murphy (8), Keelan Cairns (3), Jordan Blount (10), Conor Gallagher (6), Kevin Lacey (5).
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