Two uncapped players named in extended Ireland Senior Women’s squad for FIBA Women’s 2023 EuroBasket

Two players are in line for their senior international debuts, as Ireland head coach James Weldon names a 17-strong extended senior women’s squad for their upcoming FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 Qualifier with The Netherlands.

18-year-old Waterford Wildcats star Sarah Hickey and 21 year-old Ciara Bracken of Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics are the fresh faces. Hickey earned her call up following a strong performance in this summer’s FIBA U18 European Championship, during which she averaged 18 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 assists, helping Ireland to a 9th place finish in the ‘B’ Division.

Bracken also came through the underage international ranks and playing college basketball in the United States with Fairfield University, before returning to establish herself with Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics.

Weldon hands a recall to veteran forward Orla O’Reilly, who last played for Ireland at this level in 2009. O’Reilly plays professionally in Australia, winning two championships with the Sunbury Jets. The 32-year-old Cork native has also played in Spain, Ireland, Iceland and the Czech Republic during her career, as well as being a part of the Ireland 3×3 squad who reached the last eight of the FIBA 3×3 European Championship in Baku in 2015.

Also returning to the fold are DCU Mercy’s Hannah Thornton, who missed the last international window through injury and Liffey Celtics’ Sorcha Tiernan, both of whom have made strong starts to the Super League season for their teams.

Five of the squad retain their place after winning their first caps during the ‘Gotham Drywall’ series against Estonia in August. Bridget Herlihy, who ply’s her trade professionally in Sweden, introduced herself to the Irish crowd with a 20 point haul at the National Basketball Arena and the Irish coaching staff will be hoping for more of the same. Kara McCleane from University of Galway Mystics, DCU Mercy’s Maeve Phelan, The Address UCC Glanmire’s Mia Furlong and Kate Hickey of Waterford Wildcats will all be eager to add to their initial international experience.

Three players who featured against Estonia and Portugal two months ago, Enya Maguire, Ella O’Donnell and Bronagh-Power Cassidy are unavailable for selection due to college commitments in the United States.

Ireland last faced The Netherlands in November 2021 in Amsterdam, where they lost out on a score line of 82-60. They’ll be looking for a first win in Group I when the Dutch arrive in Dublin on November 27th. Ireland Senior Women’s head coach James Weldon is energised by the task at hand:

“The squad are excited to get back into camp and continue to build on our solid preparations over the summer sessions and games. With our NCAA players unavailable due to college commitments in the USA, it presents an opportunity for both Sarah Hickey and Ciara Bracken to come into the squad and receive their first caps along with a return of some more experienced senior international players who missed the summer slam through injury, travel or professional basketball commitments namely Hannah Thornton, Sorcha Tiernan and Orla O’Reilly.

The Management team know the squad are quickly building on the learned experiences of their recent games, at this elite level and are looking forward to a formidable challenging from a talented Netherlands team.”

Extended Ireland Senior Women’s squad vs Netherlands:

Aine O Connor (Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics)
Bridget Herlihy (Mark Basket Marbo Kinna, Sweden)
Ciara Bracken (Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics)
Claire Melia (Trinity Meteors)
Dayna Finn (Trinity Meteors)
Edel Thornton (Singleton SuperValu Brunell) (Captain)
Hannah Thornton (DCU Mercy)
Kara McCleane (University of Galway Mystics)
Kate Hickey (Waterford Wildcats)
Maeve Phelan (DCU Mercy)
Mia Furlong (The Address UCC Glanmire)
Michelle Clarke (Killester)
Orla O’Reilly (Sunbury Jets, Australia)
Rachel Huijsdens (DCU Mercy)
Sarah Kenny (Trinity Meteors)
Sarah Hickey (Waterford Wildcats)
Sorcha Tiernan (Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics)


FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers:

Ireland v Netherlands, Sunday November 27th, National Basketball Arena, 1715

Header image: Ireland head coach James Weldon

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