Ireland coach Paul Kelleher has picked 2 Cork players in his U18 squad. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

O’Connell has been named in Ireland U18 basketball squad

A Ballincollig b-ball star is set for his first cap for Ireland U18s this summer after he made the final squad for the FIBA European Challenge 2021 in August.

This week Ireland U18 men’s head coach Paul Kelleher named the squad for the tournament which will take place in Levice, Slovakia from 3-8 August including Cillian O’Connell of Ballincollig Basketball Club.

There are four other uncapped players selected. Jack O’Leary of Blue Demons BC is also picked in the squad.

Head coach Paul Kelleher said: “In many ways this was the most difficult selection we’ve ever had to make. Not being on the floor very long, really getting to know all the players on a different level for a lot longer than usual, has made this really difficult. We’ve spent so many Sunday nights on Zoom, interacting more than we’ve ever done before.

“I personally would have enjoyed and loved to have spent more basketball time with this group, but it just wasn’t possible. Now we have our 12 selected players, we will practice as much as we can, continue to develop individually and collectively and see how it works out for us.”

In May, FIBA cancelled all 2021 Youth European Championships, replacing them with the FIBA European Challenge 2021. Ireland’s U18 men are in a seven-team tournament and will face Bulgaria and Hungary in their group. The other group contains Romania, Ukraine, Switzerland and Slovakia. The fixture schedule and competition format is still to be confirmed.