Basketball Ireland welcomes return to training for senior international sides

27 October 2020; Ireland senior women’s co-captain, Edel Thornton, in attendance at the sponsorship announcement of Gotham Drywall and the Ireland senior women’s team. The initial one-year deal will see the New York-based construction company support the team through to the 2021 FIBA Women’s European Championship for Small Countries, which take place in Cyprus on June 15th-21st. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
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Basketball Ireland welcomes today’s announcement from Sport Ireland that our senior international sides can return to training from Friday (23rd April).

Both senior international sides have been granted permission to train at the National Basketball Arena. Basketball Ireland has put together stringent Covid-19 protocols to ensure that our players can train in safe manner.

The welcome development reflects updates to the current health regulations which permit the return of a broader range of high-performance sport. It is agreed, in consultation with Sport Ireland, that the preparation of the senior international teams is included in this regulation. 

Basketball Ireland CEO, Bernard O’Byrne, said: “This is a welcome first step for basketball’s return. We’d like to thank Sport Ireland, particularly Paul McDermott and Shane Califf, for their continued support and allowing our senior international sides the opportunity to train once again. A lot of preparation has been put in to make sure that it is a safe environment for our players and coaching staff. I would like to thank Charles Higgins, the Chair of Basketball Ireland’s Return to Play committee, for all his hard graft in getting us to this point. Naturally we hope in the coming weeks that our underage international sides will also be able to return to collective training ahead of this summer’s European Championships and we are in constant dialogue with Sport Ireland on the pathway for our sport at all levels to return.”

Mark Keenan, senior Irish men’s head coach, said: “We are obviously pleased to be able to gather our squad together, after a long period without competitive action. The players themselves have been keeping themselves in great shape during the various lockdowns, but nothing can replicate being on a court. I’d like to thank Sport Ireland for giving us the green light to train once more, so we can put in some valuable groundwork ahead of the European Championship for Small Countries, which will hopefully take place in Limerick this summer.

Ireland senior women’s head coach, James Weldon, added: “This is great news for our squad. The girls have been incredible over the last year or so, really engaging in the zoom meetings, along with the strength and conditioning programmes that we’ve set out for them. That groundwork will be of great benefit for when we can get back on the court to train. I’d like to thank Sport Ireland and Basketball Ireland for all their hard work in getting us to the point where we can return.”

A final decision on this summer’s men’s and women’s FIBA European Championship for Small Countries and Youth Competitions will be made at a FIBA Board meeting on May 11th.