Maree women's priority is survival this season

Maree and NUIG Mystics fly the flag for Galway in the women's National Basketball leagues which get underway this weekend.

Maree will contest the Super League for another season after a successful run last year when they finished third, while Mystics compete in division one, having finished third in the southern conference.

Coached by former division one coach of the year, Joe Shields, Maree are up against some tough opponents in the northern conference this season, and having undergone some changes in personnel, Maree's aim this season is survival at the top level.

The club has lost experienced players such as Claire Rockhall to Glanmire, Maggie Ryan (college studies ), Aine McDonagh(NUIG Mystcs ) and Michelle Fahy (retired ), so there are several youngsters in the squad this season. However, they can still look to players such as Canadian Taylor Cleggett, Carol McCarthy, Fiona Scally, Dayna Finn, Hazel Finn and Alison Blaney to lead what Joe Shields describes as a young side.

"This year it is all about survival. The squad has changed a good bit and it is a young side," he says. "Our only import is Canadian Taylor Cleggett, and most teams have two, but we are a small parish in the west with limited avenues for fundraising."

Three of the teams in the same conference are backed by college funds, including their opponents in the opening fixture against IT Carlow which takes place at Claregalway College on Saturday at 7pm. Other North Conference opponents are last year's winners DCU Mercy, Trinity Meteors, Leixlip Amenities, Liffey Celtics, and Pyrobel Killester in the North Conference.

However, this season Shields is taking a more holistic approach due to the current Covid-19 crisis.

"How long the basketball season will be able to continue is unknown, but it is a privilege to be able to play and we are thankful for that."

NUIG Mystics, who compete in the division one south conference open against Limerick Sport Huskies at Limerick IT Sports Hall at 8pm on Friday.


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