CLAREMAN Mike Hickey is to spearhead Ireland’s assault for European championship basketball glory in the coming year.
The Shannon man, who has been involved in basketball at a local, provincial and national level over the past 40 years, has been appointed as manager of the national senior side that’s hoping to bridge a quarter of a century gap at European level in 2020.
The 47-year-old is chairman of Shannon Jets Basketball club, development officer of the Clare Area Basketball Board as well as being coach to the new Limerick Institute of Technology team that entered the National League this season.
“I’m delighted to be involved and it’s where I want to be at,” the Bunratty-based Hickey told The Clare People this week. “I am going to have a couple of roles, as team manager and also in coaching, overseeing the strength and conditioning and scouting.”
Hickey has been drafted into the Irish set-up as manager by national coach Mark Keenan, renewing what has already been a hugely successful partnership at national and international level in recent years.
“I was national coach Mark Keenan’s assistant at UL Eagles and we had great success,” revealed Hickey, “when winning the National Super League Cup in 2012 and back-to-back leagues in ’12 and ’13.
“Also in 2013 we created the Irish Premier select team — we got a group of Irish players together and were allowed to have two Americans on the team and we played the best of the British League as a curtain raiser for their Cup final. We won that two years in a row, in ’13 and ’14.
“What we will be working towards is the FIBA European Small Countries International Basketball Tournament in 2020, which Ireland last won in 1994. It’s going to be a two-year plan to try and win that. In 2016, we came fourth and in 2018 we were third, so we’re really focused on improving. Winning it again is the goal,” he added.
See this week’s Clare People for more.