THE future of Cork basketball looks bright thanks to the emergence of three young teenage stars.
Jack O’Mahony and Liam Harris from Fr Mathew’s BC and Jordan Blount from Neptune have secured their places on the recently announced Irish U16 national development squad that are currently preparing for the upcoming European Championships next year.
The close-knit squad has been training intensely throughout the summer under the watchful eye of their Cork-based coach Paul Kelleher, and already, the team is beginning to garner national and international attention.
Undoubtedly the highlight for the squad so far has been their recent trip to the Madjeski arena in Reading where the squad played two high-intensity games against their English counterparts.
For the first time in 16 years, the Irish team emerged victorious winning the first game by 84-76.
The contribution of the Cork trio was very impressive with Liam Harris frequently directing play from a strong point guard position.
On the scoring front, both Blount (22) and O’Mahony (21) amassed over half the team’s tally of 43 points with many of these coming from vital three point and free throw opportunities.
The second game was equally competitive with some breathtaking displays of skill and talent from both sides.
The English squad showed great resolve however by holding off a strong Irish performance in the last quarter to emerge victorious at 61-56.
Again, the majority of the scoring came from the Cork forward pair where they netted 32 points between them.
The next phase for coach Paul Kelleher and his back room team of Colm McEneaney and Ciaran Dunne, is a series of intense training camps at regional centres around the country.
Between now and next summer, the squad plan to meet and train at least six times in preparation for what is likely to be a fascinating European Championship where hopes and expectations of a strong Irish performance will be high.