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Ipswich Women bid to upset odds and make history in cup final

PUBLISHED: 10:44 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:44 17 January 2018

Ipswich star Harriet Welham celebrates as they reach the National Cup Final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich star Harriet Welham celebrates as they reach the National Cup Final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Pavel.Kricka@btinternet.com

Ipswich Women’s Basketball head coach Nick Drane believes his side can make history this weekend when they face the Essex Blades in the National Cup Final.

Ipswich head coach Nick Drane gives instructions to his team. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich head coach Nick Drane gives instructions to his team. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

It is a remarkable story of success for his squad, who are playing in their first season together and feature a number of teenage players as key members of the team.

Indeed, they are chasing an unbeaten season - they have won all six of their games in NBL Division Two so far, and upset a number of sides from the league above to reach Sunday’s showpiece at the University of East London.

- MORE: Something special is happening at Ipswich

If they are to make history and lift the trophy, they need to pull off one more upset against the Division One Blades.

Harriet Welham is one of Ipswich's star players. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Harriet Welham is one of Ipswich's star players. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

But the bombastic Drane said: “Some people have used the term David and Goliath, which I take offence to.

“Ipswich Basketball Club is a massive club – by far the biggest in the east region – and we have consistently produced junior internationals, both male and female, for many years – this team is an extension of that pathway.

“Yes, Essex are the favourites and they should be – but on account of what they have achieved, not because of anything to do with us. We believe that we can win”.

Adding extra spice to the match-up is the fact that Drane will be coaching against his former coach and mentor Mark Lloyd, who will be assisted by former Ipswich star and academy coach Tom Sadler.

Ipswich celebrate as the final buzzer goes at Bristo in the National Cup semi-final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich celebrate as the final buzzer goes at Bristo in the National Cup semi-final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

- MORE: Welham hits a clutch shot to send Ipswich into final

Drane said: “It will be a great day – Mark and Tom are both very dear to me personally and I am delighted that Ipswich and Essex are actually working together to further develop basketball in the east region, so while we are rivals next weekend, this really is a celebration of how strong women’s basketball is in the East.

“But that all goes out of the window this weekend.”
Essex will also boast Ipswich Academy product Charlene Tom, who will be facing off against the likes of Ipswich stars Harriet Welham, Grace Sinnott and Ashleigh Pink – players she once played alongside.

The final tips off at 1pm on Sunday at the UEL, with a large crowd expected. You can get tickets from www.basketballengland.co.uk.

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Mick McCarthy has confirmed striker David McGoldrick will not play again this season.

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Mick McCarthy is hopeful Joe Garner will be fit to face former club Preston this weekend while a trio of youngsters could get a chance to impress at Deepdale.

Ipswich Town take on Preston North End, at Deepdale, on Saturday in what will be their third Championship game in seven days.

Ipswich Town travel to Preston North End for a third Championship game in seven days on Saturday. STUART WATSON previews the action.

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