Three Cork players picked for Ireland U16 and U18 squads

Dylan O'Rourke is involved with the U16s with Daryl Cuff and Rory O'Flynn on Paul Kelleher's U18 panel
Three Cork players picked for Ireland U16 and U18 squads

Ireland's Dylan O’Rourke on the move against Scotland in the Basketball Ireland U16 Four Nations Tournament. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

IRELAND U18 men’s head coach Paul Kelleher has selected his final 12-person squad for the FIBA U18 Men’s European Championships in Portugal this July.

The squad has been trimmed following a second-place finish in the Four Nations tournament in Cardiff, where Ireland defeated Scotland and Wales before suffering defeat against England.

Aivaras Uosis will captain the side after a strong domestic season which saw him gain minutes for Garvey’s Tralee Warriors in the InsureMyVan.ie Super League, as well as picking up an U20 National League title with the club.

"It’s beyond exciting to be a part of this team with such talented players," said Uosis. "The work we’ve put in will continue now after what we have learned from the Four Nations. I’m really looking forward to representing Ireland again at the FIBA European Championships in Portugal this year."

He is one of five players selected who will compete at the signature event for a second year in succession at this level. Tony Ezeonu, Jack Kehoe, Daniel Carberry and Joseph Badejo also return from a team who finished in 20th position a year ago.

Three players have also successfully transitioned from the FIBA U16 Men’s European Championship team of 2022, forward’s Jakub Malecki, Joshua Osayanrhion and Declan Gbinigie played a large number of minutes in that competition last year so know what it takes to compete at this higher level.

Blue Demons BC’s Daryl Cuff, Rory O’Flynn of Ballincollig and Leo Byrne, who plies his trade with Alvik Basket in Sweden make the grade having been a part of the U17 pathway programme previously.

6’ 8” forward Victor Okojie of BC Taurus is the only player selected yet to feature at a FIBA European Championship at any level. Okojie made his presence felt on the boards against both Wales and Scotland at the Four Nations and will be eyeing up more of the same in Portugal.

"This is always the toughest part of the programme," said head coach Paul Kelleher. "Players who make it so far, have worked tirelessly and not selected. There have been some really good players who have been left behind. 

Ireland U18 head coach Paul Kelleher talking to his players.
Ireland U18 head coach Paul Kelleher talking to his players.

"Not only good players, but wonderful young men also. And it’s sad to see them not achieve what they have worked so hard for. In turn, we have a talented group now. A lot more experience having come through both the U16 and U18 European Championships last year. That learning and experience will hopefully stand well for this group."

Ireland will face Netherlands, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania and Kosovo in the group phase of the FIBA U18 Men’s European Championship B Division.

IRELAND U18 SQUAD: 

Joseph Badejo, Leo Byrne, Daniel Carberry, Daryl Cuff, Tony Ezeonu, Declan Gbinigie, Jack Kehoe, Jakub Malecki, Rory O’Flynn, Victor Okojie, Joashua Osayanrhion, Aivaras Uosis.

COMPETE

Ireland U16 men's head coach Dr. Michael Lynch has selected a squad of 13 who will compete to be part of his final 12-person roster for the FIBA U16 Men's European Championships in Romania.

It comes in the wake of Ireland's victory on home soil in the U16 Four Nations a week ago.

Lynch includes Ireland's top three scorers from that success, Dylan O'Rourke (15 points-per-game), Eoin Potito (13.5ppg) and Darragh Horkan (13ppg). 

Also making the grade are two overseas players, Charlie Marcoullier who came off the bench at the death of the decider against England to make a number of important shots and Kieran Quinn who proved effective from beyond the arc as well as provided a strong presence beneath the rim.

Galway's Titans BC have the highest representation in the squad, Luke Herrick and Nathan Gbinigie joining Potito. Seven others also feature UCD Marian, Baltinglass Bulldogs, Drogheda Wolves, Éanna BC, Limerick Lions, Neptune and St Vincent's.

Next on the radar for the team will be the Dussman Trophy in July before they tackle the group stage of the FIBA U16 Men's European Championship in August.

Speaking on the difficulty of his decision, head coach Dr Michael Lynch said: "It is never easy to reduce a squad, especially after an achievement such as the success of last week's Four Nations tournament which was great for us and all of of the Irish basketball community.

However, that success did create some real headaches and difficult decisions for me and my coaching staff. Again we would like to thank all the players and parents that have been involved in the Programme to date. Their commitment and dedication has been nothing short of exceptional. We still have a lot of work to do so now it's time for us to refocus on the next stage of our preparations for the FIBA European Championships.

"We look forward to working with the players selected going forward and are excited to get back to work this weekend."

IRELAND U16 SQUAD: 

Darragh Horkan, Adam Charles, Nathan Gbinige, Charles Marcoullier, Kieran Quinn, James Power, Noah Winders, Rojas Rimas, Dylan O'Rourke, Eoin Potito, Piers Postma, Kareem Matonmi, Luke Herrick.

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