Ireland 104-33 Andorra

Ireland kicked of their FIBA European Championship for Small Countries campaign with an impressive 71-point victory over Andorra.

The game, played in Nicosia in Cyprus, marks their return to international basketball after a Covid-induced hiatus since 2019.

It was an impressive start for Ireland, after Rachel Huijsdens won the jump ball, Dayna Finn scored the first four points of the game, with a free-throw and converted and one.

After a steal from Edel Thornton, Fiona O’Dwyer made another lay-up, putting Ireland eight ahead.

Combined offensive efforts from Dayna Finn, Edel Thornton, Claire Melia and Rachel Huijsdens brought Ireland to a 17-0 lead, before a three-pointer by Andorra’s Cristina Andres Rabasa put them on the board.

An impressive defensive display from Edel Thornton in this quarter was exemplified by her three steals, and Grainne Dwyer quickly made her presence known when she was introduced half way through the first quarter, with a steal and offensive rebound.

A lay-up from Cristina Andres Rabasa, and a jump shot from Claudia Brunet Solano were the only other scores made by Andorra in the opening quarter.

The second quarter proved to be Ireland’s most impressive, with the team notching 32 points in 10 minutes.

Claire Melia scored an early lay-up with the assist from Rachel Huijsdens, and followed this with a defensive rebound that lead to a three-point jump shot from Fiona O’Dwyer, assisted by Sorcha Tiernan.

Tiernan then assisted O’Dwyer with another three-pointer. Tiernan recorded three steals in the quarter, the third converted with a lay-up. Andorra struggled to keep up in this quarter, registering just six points, all from lay-ups.

It was Ireland’s defensive efforts that set them apart as a whole, with many scores resulting from defensive rebounds. Aine McKenna managed to beat the buzzer with a jump shot to put Ireland 60-18 ahead at end of the half.

Finn got the scoring under way in the third quarter with a lay-up, following an offensive rebound from a missed Fiona O’Dwyer jump shot.

Andorra responded in kind with a lay-up from Noah Mico Lorenzo.

Strong defensive play from Edel Thornton and Rachel Huijsdens really put the pressure on Andorra, causing errors. Another impressive steal under the basket from Sorcha Tiernan also resulted in a lay-up. Ireland scored 13 points unanswered in the middle of the third quarter.

Grainne Dwyer broke the 100 points threshold for Ireland, scoring a lay-up on a offensive rebound.

Ireland finished with 36 defensive rebounds and 27 offensive rebounds, while Finn led the scoring charts with a personal tally of 14 points.

Malta lie in wait in Ireland's second game of the championships on Thursday afternoon.

Ireland: Michelle Clarke (9), Aine McKenna (10), Dayna Finn (14), Claire Rockall (7), Rachel Huijsdens (9), Grainne Dwyer (11), Edel Thornton (4), Fiona O'Dwyer (10), Claire Melia (9), Hannah Thornton (5), Sorcha Tiernan (12), Aine O’Connor (4)

Andorra: Cristina Andres Rabasa (10), Noah Mico Lorenzo (13), Laura Laurent Marrugat, Mariona Palou Vidal, Carla Solana Perez (2), Claudia Brunet Solano (6), Julia Marquez Tomas (2), Cloe Torcuato Rodriguez (DNP), Anna Mana Buscall, Patricia Meira Gallego, Mireia Magrinya Alonso