A GROUP of 17 made the most recent cut of Paul Kelleher’s U18 Men’s squad ahead of the upcoming Four Nations Tournament in Cardiff, including two Cork natives.
Kelleher has been aided by the return of five members from last year’s FIBA European Championships roster when they travelled to Romania.
Daryl Cuff and Rory O’Flynn are the sole Leesiders named on the panel, both offering scoring threats stemming from their differing basketball backgrounds.
Cuff is in his second year of being involved with Kelleher’s squad after narrowly missing out on being a part of the final 12 players picked last summer. However, the young talent showcased his capabilities at the Four Nations Tournament last April where he made his debut at the U18 level a year young.
The 6’2” combo-guard also played a major role in Blue Demons’ run to the InsureMyVan.ie U20 National Cup Final a season ago.
His late barrage of three-pointers diminished a seemingly insurmountable deficit against UCD Marian, cutting a 17-point lead to just a single score.
Cuff’s contributions were somewhat fortunate as a move to Feltrim Academy in Florida was hampered by travel restrictions, seeing the talented guard play out an extra season with his boyhood club.
A year later, Cuff has now completed his move across the pond where he has the opportunity to benefit from facilities and opportunities that were otherwise unavailable closer to home.
Last summer, Ballincollig’s Rory O’Flynn earned his first cap against Scotland, featuring for the U17s.
O’Flynn benefitted from the remodelled U17 squad, coached by last year’s U18 assistant coach, Gareth O’Reilly.
The squad acts as a preparatory year where players become accustomed to the schemes and standards expected of them a year later when they begin trialing for Kelleher’s panel.
Now, the young guard has reaped the benefits of that program and earned himself a spot with the squad flying to Wales in April.
O’Flynn has improved by playing above his age grade also, featuring in the InsureMyVan.ie U20 Men’s National League Final last April. His impact from the bench as an U17 player was seamless, but his beloved Ballincollig BC fell short to the aforementioned double-winning UCD Marian.
O’Flynn’s improvement as a player has been notable, growing from the experiences of his older brother, Sean, and the renowned skill-development coaching made available to him at Ballincollig BC.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors’ Aivaras Uosis has been named as team captain as preparations continue over the coming months ahead of July’s European Championships in Portugal.