DCU Mercy women’s coach Mark Ingle, who has been defensive specialist to Jim Gavin’s Dublin, boasts three sides in this weekend’s National Cup finals.
he success of Ingle, and the club he founded with his wife, inspired the Dubs supremo to call on his services when tackling blanket defences in football three years ago.
Ingle was in no doubt about Gavin’s invitation after he heard his impressive technical understanding of the game.
“He’s a very knowledgeable guy,” Ingle says of Gavin. “He’s really open-minded and learns from lots of different sports. It’s not just basketball, he’s a good eye on a lot of them.”
The DCU Mercy man helped introduce Gavin’s Gaelic footballers to the game-plans and drills to crack defensive codes – ideas familiar to basketball players such as Michael Darragh Macauley and Kevin McManamon in the Dublin panel.
Ingle insists the task he faces as coach of the senior women’s team, who play reigning champions Ambassador UCC Glanmire in this Sunday’s final, doesn’t compare to inter-county football.
“It’s completely different. I’ve got 12 players to look after. Inter-county teams would have 35 or 40. You’d need an army of coaches for that,” he says.
“I’ve never been asked (whether I learn anything from Gaelic football) but I think you can take something from any sport.”
Like Gavin, the Dubliner, who played Leinster Senior League soccer with Tymon Celtic, has used other sports. “I think I was a better soccer player. I didn’t have to try as hard as I did in basketball but I think that was good for me as a coach,” he reflects.
“I can appreciate talented players but I can also appreciate the hard workers because I had to work for everything I had on a basketball court.”
As well as other sports, Ingle has borrowed from other countries too.
He invited coaches from top Spanish basketball teams Real Madrid and Barcelona (as well as Gavin) to his annual ‘Rip and Run’ basketball camp in a bid to improve underage players’ technique.
“We may be lacking in skill here but the Spanish coaches observed that Irish kids really love playing basketball,” Ingle says.
“They never had to get on their case about having to try harder. That enthusiasm is not the norm in Spain.”
Ingle credits this approach with his own club’s underage success – with DCU Mercy’s U-20s facing Brunell in their final tonight, the U-18s playing Glanmire tomorrow before his senior side take the to court for women’s final on Sunday.
“Usually, big games like this weekend come down to small details. Especially, if you know the opposition and they know you,” he says.
This will be the case on Sunday as he and his charges, who top the Super League at the moment, face Glanmire’s coach Mark Scannell, who helped start the camp with Ingle.
DCU Mercy will draw on Bronagh Power-Cassidy, Maeve ó Shéaghdha and Rachel Huijsdens who were part of an historic Irish U-18 team that reached last year’s European Championship final – the furthest any Irish underage side has gone.
Before that, their table-topping counterparts in the men’s league, UCD Marian, will face Black Amber Templeogue in an all-Dublin decider tomorrow night.