Dayna Finn looking to put Cup final misery behind her in Prague

Trinity Meteors' Irish ace was gunning for a unique family Cup treble but was the only Finn to come home without a winner’s medal
Dayna Finn looking to put Cup final misery behind her in Prague

PREPPED FOR PRAGUE: Ireland's Dayna Finn will be looking to put her Cup final disappointment behind her as Ireland get ready for their final EuroBasket 2023 Qualifier.

THEY coughed up a 20-point half-time home lead to get pipped by the Netherlands 10 weeks ago and with it any any hope of qualifying for the FIBA 2023 European Championships.

Yet that has only given Ireland renewed home and self-belief before their final group game against the Czech Republic on Thursday (Live, TG4 4pm).

So says Dayna Finn (22) who’s had to take more than that disappointment recently.

Two weeks ago, on Cup final weekend, the Trinity Meteors star was gunning for a unique family treble yet was the only one in her family to come home without a winner’s medal.

Dad John (best known for his exploits as a Mayo footballer) was assistant coach to the University of Galway Maree side who pulled off a historic victory in men’s senior and her younger sister Hazel won the U20 Cup with NUIG Mystics.

Meteors were heavily fancied to dispatch Killester in the senior women’s decider yet got a shock 26-point drubbing.

“I prefer being the underdog. We weren’t the underdog and I think that plays on you mentally. I think that took a toll on the team,” she admits. “Killester were the better team on the day, they really were and we lost by a big enough margin that it was easier to take. We just didn’t get the performance that we have been getting.” 

Ireland will wear that underdog tag again in Prague on Thursday, albeit between two sides somewhat changed since their last meeting.

The Czechs have an entirely new coaching team since they beat Ireland 70-54 in Tallaght in November 2021 and James Weldon has rejigged his roster since, with Glanmire’s Mia Furlong replacing DCU Mercy’s Rachel Huijsdens (college commitments) for this one.

Ireland actually outrebounded them last time out (37-34) but, more importantly, after a 12-year-absence from this level, showed real evidence of green shoots by running the Dutch to three points last November.

“That game was probably our biggest sign that we are well able to compete. We had two big-margins losses against the Netherlands and Czechs previously. We showed what we can do in the first and second quarters when we work together.

“Even though we lost narrowly I don’t think it reflects how much we have built from the first (European) window,” Finn says.

A Masters in Education student at Trinity College, she admits there’s real motivation and pride for Ireland’s amateurs to pit themselves against a fully-professional team again today, with absolutely nothing to lose.

“Just because they might train three times a-day every day doesn’t mean that you are not capable of putting in a performance for 40 minutes,” she insists.

International duty at the height of the domestic season certainly adds an interesting dynamic.

“We were only having that conversation at lunch. It’s gas that we were going at each other in games literally on Sunday and then we went to Prague on Monday. Club is great but when you come here, you are with the best of the best. The situation is so fluid and we have done it for so long that it is just second nature to us.

“We are rivals when we are playing each other in the Super League but, once you get off the court, it is high fives and we’re all back in and best friends again here. I think we will have a positive mindset that we belong up here and I think we have shown that and just (want) to build again and have confidence in ourselves that we can compete at this level.” 

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