Maxol WIT Wildcats Superleague manager Jillian Hayes pictured with team members, Cathy Kavanagh, Jasmine Walker, Megan Donohue, Sarah Whelan, Allyson Caggio and other Wildcats team managers, Annemarie O’Brien-Whelan, Dan Fitzgerald and Fidelma Connors at the club’s season launch at the Granville Hotel. Photo: Noel Browne.
The 2017/18 Superleague basketball season tips off this weekend and Maxol WIT Wildcats are on the road for their first two games. They face Carlow IT this Sunday October 8th and the following Saturday 14th away to Portlaoise Panthers before their first home game versus Galway on Saturday 21st October.
This could prove a difficult season for Wildcats to stay in the Superleague, having lost five seasoned players from last season’s squad as well as the fact that team captain Sinead Deegan has taken a year out to tour the world. After giving a number of years of great service to her beloved Wildcats, Sinead deserves to enjoy her travels. Cathy Kavanagh takes over the arm band and she will be hoping to inspire her teammates who will include two new American players, Jasmine Walker from New Jersey and Meghan Donohue from Ohio. Both players are attending WIT studying for their masters via the Sport Changes Life programme sponsored by golfer Rory McIlroy and WIT. They have been in Waterford for three weeks now and have already proved to be a big hit with the young basketball enthusiasts in the city who attend their weekly skills clinic at the Mercy sports hall.
Head coach Jillian Hayes will have her fingers crossed that they will be equally impressive come game time versus Carlow IT. Jasmine will play at point guard while Meghan will slot into the post position flanked by Steph O’Shea and Cathy Kavanagh, a trio who each stand six foot plus which should trouble many of their opponents as the season progresses. Another newcomer is Allyson Caggio who came to Waterford some months ago for work reasons having spent a couple of years in Tralee. Some years prior to coming to Ireland, Allyson played underage basketball for her native Italy. Let’s hope she can rekindle some of those youthful skill from her homeland while playing with Wildcats. Another Wildcats favourite Helena Rohan will be hoping to take over where she left of last season with many dazzling displays. Coach Hayes will have to bring in a number players from the clubs underage programme to replace those who have retired. Amongst those on that list is one Abby Flynn who at the tender age of 16 is seen as one of the brightest prospects to don the Wildcats and Irish jersey for many a year. As time goes on, no doubt other young players will come to the fore and become household names, but for the moment Wildcats ambition has to be to secure their place among the elite clubs of Irish basketball. However I have no doubt that this Wildcats outfit have bigger ambitions.
Last Saturday night Maxol WIT Wildcats had their 2017/18 season launch at the Granville Hotel where all coaches, managers, players and sponsors were in attendance to meet and greet Wildcats new Americans and start of the season in party mood. Let’s hope it finishes in a similar mood.