Portlaoise Panthers trio looking to raise funds to help their Irish dreams come true

Portlaoise Panthers trio looking to raise funds to help their Irish dreams come true

Portlaoise Panthers trio Ciara Byrne, Gillian Wheeler and Shauna Dooley.

Three Irish youth internationals from Portlaoise Panthers basketball club are trying to raise funds in the next few weeks to help them realise their dreams of playing for Ireland this summer.

Ciara Byrne, Shauna Dooley and Gillian Wheeler have all been selected on the Irish U-16 girls team for the European Championships in Montenegro this August, a remarkable achievement for the girls and the Panthers club.

As Irish teams are self-funded, all players have to cover their costs of attending the International competitions they are selected for.

The team are also playing a warm-up tournament in Luxembourg in July, and the players must also cover the costs of that trip.

In total, the players have to raise €500 each to travel to Luxembourg, and another €1,800 each for the European finals in Montenegro.

They have already arranged a bag-packing day in Dunnes Stores in the coming weeks, but are now putting the call out to local businesses or interested parties to help sponsor their costs of representing Ireland this summer.

Portlaoise Panthers already have one European finalist in their midst, after Maeve Phelan was part of the history-making Irish U-18 side which rose to national prominence last year by becoming the first ever Irish basketball team to qualify for a European final.

This young Panthers trio will be hoping to follow in her footsteps, and they all look well placed to do so. Shauna Dooley and Ciara Byrne have won multiple national titles with Scoil Chríost Rí in recent years, with Shauna recently selected as the All-Ireland Schools U-16 Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Ciara Byrne also plays intercounty football with Laois Ladies, while Gillian Wheeler has enjoyed similar success with her school, Cross and Passion in Kilcullen. She also plays intercounty football with Kildare.

If you would like to support the girls in their quest to represent Ireland this summer, you can contact Portlaoise Panthers club Chairman, Shay Dooley, on 087-2923786.

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