Cork basketball: Neptune tyro Darragh O'Sullivan flying high at Florida Tech

Cork basketball: Neptune tyro Darragh O'Sullivan flying high at Florida Tech

Former Neptune ace Darragh O'Sullivan lays up a basket against Belfast Stars last year. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK basketballer Darragh O’Sullivan has made a very bright start to his full scholarship with Florida Tech, under the guidance of former Neptune coach Bobby Mims.

O'Sullivan starred last season for Winchendon Prep School in Northern Massachusetts, who operated in the second highest league in New England.

The son of former Neptune legend Tom, enjoyed his time in Prep School.

“When I finished school in Ireland, I didn't have any college offers, so I always knew I was going to be going down the prep school route. My prep year in Winchendon was great. It was some really high level basketball. I made some great friends and played under great coaches. It was a great year."

Cork basketballer Darragh O'Sullivan in action for Winchendon Prep School in Northern Massachusetts. He is playing for Florida Tech this year, on a full scholarship
Cork basketballer Darragh O'Sullivan in action for Winchendon Prep School in Northern Massachusetts. He is playing for Florida Tech this year, on a full scholarship

Accepting a full scholarship to play with Florida Tech who are a Division 2 school team represented a no-brainer for O'Sullivan. The opportunity to work with Bobby Mims was also a huge factor in his decision as he outlined his reasons for switching coasts.

“What made me choose FIT was Coach Mims. At the start of the recruitment process he was honest with me and really sold me the school.

"Coach Mims also coached my father back home in Ireland in the 80s. After finished my Leaving Certificate, staying at home was never really an option for me.

"I love and miss my family and friends, but I always knew this is what I wanted to do. They all supported me in that decision.

"All my friends and family, all the way down to my club and even my teachers in Coláiste Choilm were so supportive.” O'Sullivan, who turned 20 in June, is balancing his basketball dreams with academic studies. He is studying Sports Management and has a hectic schedule, both on and off the court as he divulged.

“We have a few business classes and some general math classes as I'm a freshman. It is a busy schedule, but I'm really enjoying it. This is my second year living in America and it has been great.

"Balancing college and basketball was tough at the start, but I'm after getting into a pretty nice routine that works for me. That year in prep school really helped me.

"We have 20 hours a week with basketball and lift, along with classes five days a week. I like it because it keeps me busy.” The former Neptune player feels his basketball game has improved considerably since he made the brave decision to embark on the US Colleges circuit. Playing with top-class players and working with renowned coaches has hugely benefitted his career he revealed.

“I do feel like my game has improved a lot since I moved over. They play a lot faster over here than what we do back home. I love it as it keeps the game interesting.

"We have just got a new court at FIT and it has been really nice to get to play on that. We are looking really good this year. We are hoping to compete at a really high level. The SSC is a really good conference, so hopefully we will do well.” 

Neptune's Darragh O'Sullivan with his parents. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Neptune's Darragh O'Sullivan with his parents. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

His family is synonymous with Neptune. His father Tom was a great player for Burgerland Neptune, while his older brother Conor, currently pursuing a basketball career in America also represented Neptune with great distinction. They won numerous National Cups during their time with Neptune.

“I have nothing but great memories from my time with Neptune. I loved playing with all my various teammates and we are all still in touch.

"Neptune in my opinion are the greatest club in the world, no question about it. In a few years, when everyone comes home from the USA, we will hopefully help Neptune to more success.” 

His outstanding form with Ballincollig secondary school Coláiste Choilm, where he helped them win successive All-Ireland titles and his consistent performance with Neptune brought him to the attention of the various international underage teams.

“'I have been fortunate to captain my country numerous times, from U16 up to U20 level. It was a great honour. I always loved representing my country.

"There was a great feeling of pride when I put on that jersey. Hopefully I'll be able to do it again soon.” 

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The outbreak of Covid means he will not be able to return home for Christmas this year.

“Unfortunately with Covid my family haven't been able to make the trip over, but hopefully next year they will. Thankfully I don't get homesick, so that hasn't been a problem. I still miss my mam more and more on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to get home for a few days last Christmas, but this year I won't be as lucky unfortunately.” 

O'Sullivan has specific goals for the coming years.

“I have four years left due to the shortened seasons, but the NCAA have granted us another year. My short term goal is to win a ring with Florida Tech. My long term goal is to just play as long as I can and enjoy playing the game.”

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