DCU basketball player Hannah Thornton joined Nathan Murphy on Off The Ball to discuss playing during Covid and the rise of women's basketball in Ireland.
Ireland reached the final of the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries in July this year.
They beat Andorra, Malta and Kosovo before losing to Luxembourg in the final. It was a significant achievement for an Ireland team that had not enjoyed the best of preparation for the tournament. Hannah Thornton explained on Thursday night.
"The Irish team was classified as elite in the end of January/February this year," she said.
"So that meant that individually you were allowed to go into a basketball court so DCU allowed myself to go in an hour a day and shoot. We had some small bit of preparation before we met together as a squad. We actually weren't that bad, our strength-and-conditioning coach was very surprised with how good we were.
"He had given us programmes to do."
Prior to being labelled as elite, the Ireland basketball players couldn't practice in any fashion. Even on outside courts they couldn't come together. That meant that competition for places once the squad reunited was fierce.
"Going into an Irish training camp you don't want to be the last person on the sprint. We're a fairly competitive group as it is. We all took onus on our own to make sure we were in good shape going in. And they didn't push us too hard the first one, they knew that it was just about getting the ball back in our hands.
"Basketball is all about making quick decisions so that took a while to get back and making the good pass, knowing what to do, whereas other sports might be just pure you need your fitness back."
Because of their success at the FIBA championship, Ireland are now back in the top tier of European basketball. They will be eligible for the next major competition in 2023.
"What the Euro Basket means is we're now going to be competing throughout the year.
"It's really exciting because internationally we haven't competed in the Euro Basket since 2009 so it's a massive step up for the women's programme. It's a really, really big step in the right direction, especially with the younger people coming through."
"We have an influx of young people on this national team."