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 Sean McCarthy, Neptune, taking on Luke O'Sullivan, Ballincollig, in the U18 National Cup earlier this season.  Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Sean McCarthy, Neptune, taking on Luke O'Sullivan, Ballincollig, in the U18 National Cup earlier this season.  Picture: Jim Coughlan.
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Cork basketball: Neptune duo Sean McCarthy and Eli Lenihan head Stateside

TWO of Neptune’s most talented young basketballers are heading Stateside at the end of the summer.

Sean McCarthy and Eli Lenihan were outstanding for the northside club back in January when they lifted the U18 National Cup.

Neptune were in trouble against a Belfast Star led by the gifted guard CJ Fulton, who is also off to pursue his American dream, before McCarthy and Lenihan stepped up to inspire a six-point victory. 

They would have been key players for coach Paul Kelleher in this summer's Irish U18 team, until Covid-19 put paid to all sporting action. A cruel blow to all involved.

 Sean McCarthy slams the ball home at Neptune Stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins
Sean McCarthy slams the ball home at Neptune Stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins

McCarthy this week announced his decision to attend Putnam Science Academy, located in Northeast Connecticut and an hour from Boston. 

This will be with a view to securing a spot with a good college the following season.

The 18-year-old, who went to school at Coláiste Choilm, has serious sporting pedigree. 

Sean and Rose McCarthy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sean and Rose McCarthy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

His mother Rose was a noted basketballer with Blarney, father Andrew is a former Cork minor football selector and his sister Niamh a county camogie champion with Inniscarra and Cork player.

Eli Lenihan, who was a Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál pupil, is heading to the MacDuffie School in Massachusetts.

A former joint-captain of the Irish U16 basketball team, Lenihan was Neptune’s MVP at the National Basketball Arena in the U18 cup triumph, he’s a capable creator on the court as well as a scorer.

McCarthy and Lenihan both previously played with a Ballincollig team that won the U14 All-Ireland and included Hugh Murphy, wing-forward for the Cork minor footballers in 2019.

Eli Lenihan of Neptune Nippers back in 2009. Picture: Larry Cummins
Eli Lenihan of Neptune Nippers back in 2009. Picture: Larry Cummins

A host of Neptune’s best basketballers have made the move to the US lately, including Sean Jenkins, Adam Drummond and brothers Conor and Darragh O’Sullivan.

The likes of James and Scott Hannigan, Cian and Adam Heaphy, and Kelvin O’Donoghue has also excelled for Neptune in recent years.

Jordan Blount, who pulled on the Neptune singlet in his early teens before going to England to a basketball academy, recently completed four years with UIC.

His excellence in Chicago put Leeside players in the spotlight but it is difficult to make an impact on Division 1 college basketball as the skill level and athleticism is extremely high.

Eli Lenihan of Neptune in action against Darragh Ferguson of Belfast Star. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Eli Lenihan of Neptune in action against Darragh Ferguson of Belfast Star. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

While Neptune have a production line of talent, they haven’t been able to force their way into the mix for senior silverware in the two seasons since they returned to the SuperLeague, though they were unlucky to lose this year’s National Cup semi-final.