Good news for Cork's top international basketball players

European Championships for seniors will go ahead but revamped U16, U18 and U20 competitions are still up in the air
Good news for Cork's top international basketball players

Cork basketballer Adrian O'Sullivan in action for Ireland in 2018. Picture: Larry Cummins

IRELAND will host the European Championship for Small Countries in Dublin this August, while the women's tournament goes ahead in Cyprus on July 20-25.

The FIBA board voted to go ahead with the prestigious competitions, though the National Basketball Arena will now stage the men's event on August 10-15, which was originally planned for Limerick.

Ireland will also send senior men's and women's teams to the 3x3 Euro Cup in Constanta, Romania, from June 26-27.

Though the U16, U18 and U20 European Championships have been called off, a European Challenge 2021 round-robin tournament has been proposed. This would have a maximum of six countries in a seeded group, with no host countries decided yet. 

There would be plenty of Cork players in the mix to travel to those competitions, but Basketball Ireland will consult with coaches, players and parents to see if it's viable. Underage internationals must pay their own way when pulling on the Irish singlet, and Covid restrictions could drive up costs for those on board.

For the CEO of Basketball Ireland Bernard O’Byrne, it's a “mixed bag of news". 

"Naturally we are delighted to see our senior men’s and women’s teams being able to compete at the European Championship for Small Countries this summer. The decision to move the men’s tournament from Limerick was a difficult one, but it was made after consultation with all the stakeholders involved, including the University of Limerick. FIBA made the call based on logistics, which are naturally more difficult during Covid-times," he explained. 

"I’d like to thank UL for all their hard work and dedication and naturally we’d like to host a major tournament there at some point in the future.

“For our underage teams, while there is no European Championship to target this summer, they will potentially be able to compete at the ‘European Challenge 2021’."

Under senior men's coach Mark Keenan and senior women's coach James Weldon, Ireland only got the all-clear to return to the hardwood for indoor training in Dublin recently. After a lost season at club level for all bar those abroad like Cork's Jordan Blount and Adrian O'Sullivan, the players will be eager to make the most of the opportunity to represent Ireland this summer. 

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