Ireland’s European hoop dreams dependent on sponsors

OLYMPIC boxer Paddy Barnes isn’t the only one struggling to find sponsorship.

As he prepares to head to Rio, the Irish senior women’s basketball team and coaching staff are looking to scrape together €10,000 to keep their hoop dreams of attending June’s FIBA European Championships alive.

The competition will take place in Gibraltar, however Ireland must first raise €10,000 in order to pay for flights and accommodation, if they’re to take part in the competition.

Given the limited funds available from the national governing body, Basketball Ireland, the players and coaching staff have agreed to attempt to self-finance the trip. However, should a sponsor become available to give them a dig-out, it would allow the squad to prepare as best they can without having to worry about financing the trip.

Ireland's Orla O'Reilly and Grainne Dwyer in action at the European Games in Baku last summer.

Ireland’s Orla O’Reilly and Grainne Dwyer in action at the European Games in Baku last summer.

It is the first senior women’s international team since the enforced axeing of the programme in 2009, and head coach, Mark Scannell, is hoping a sponsor will rally behind the team.

The squad recently hosted a trilogy of games against the American stars of the Irish Women’s SuperLeague, the US Victory Scholars, in venues in Dublin, Waterford and Cork in order to bring in money from the Irish basketball community. However, that will go so far as time is running out to come up with the funds.

One player which the Irish management team are looking to add to the squad is Australia-based Jessica Scannell who is presently playing with the Melbourne Tigers. However, at present the budget does not allow for it.

Professional player Orla O’Reilly, who’s competing in the top division in Spain, and US college stars Edel Thornton and Clodagh Scannell have yet to join the Irish squad for preparations, but it is hoped that enough funds will be gathered to allow them do so ahead of time.

The success of the Irish women’s team in the 3X3 competition at the European Games in Baku last summer has put the team back on the international map, and so a national sponsor would be crazy not to give this prospect a second thought.

FIBA Women’s European Championships for Small Countries
Gibraltar, June 26th – July 3rd, 2016.
Group A: Moldova, Ireland, Wales.
Head Coach: Mark Scannell.
Assistant Coaches: Paul Kelleher, Francis O’Sullivan
Team Manager: Grace O’Sullivan
Tuesday June 28th: Ireland v Moldova
Wednesday June 29th: Ireland v Wales
Friday July 1st: Qualifying Games For Semi-Finals
Saturday July 2nd: Semi-Finals
Sunday July 3rd: Finals and Classification Games



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