Ireland kicked off their campaign for the FIBA European Small Countries Championship with a complete 71-point victory over Andorra.
The match, played in Nicosia marks their return to international basketball after a Covid-induced hiatus since 2019. It was an impressive start for Ireland as Dayna Finn scored the game’s first four points, with a free throw and converted ‘and one’.
After a steal from Edel Thornton, Fiona O’Dwyer made another layup, putting Ireland eight in front. The combined offensive efforts of Finn, Thornton, Claire Melia and Rachel Huijsdens took Ireland to a 17-0 lead, giving them good control before Cristina Andres Rabasa of Andorra put them on the board.
An impressive defensive display from Edel Thornton during the quarter was exemplified by his three interceptions as Ireland led 28-12 on the first break.
The second quarter turned out to be Ireland’s most impressive, with the team scoring 32 points in 10 minutes. Claire Melia scored the start of the scoring and they dominated the period until Aine McKenna managed to beat the buzzer with a jump shot to give Ireland the 60-18 advantage at the end of the half. time.
An unanswered 13-point streak in the third quarter put the game out of doubt as the Irish led 84-25 with 10 minutes left and there was no slack as they scored another 20 points in the fourth so that they sealed a 104-33 success.
“I think our defense set the tone for the game,” Ireland assistant coach Jillian Hayes said. “Everyone contributed to the defensive end and the offensive end. Defensively, we were tenacious on the pitch, we set our goals defensively and we achieved them.
“We are fully aware that there is tougher competition to come, and we have the next two days to work on it. Happy and looking forward to a tougher game.” Ireland next face Malta in their second group match of the Championship, which takes place at 2 p.m. Irish time on Thursday.