Three Limerick Basketball prospects make Ireland U18 squad for upcoming European competition

IRELAND U18 men’s head coach Paul Kelleher has named his final squad for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) European Challenge 2021, which will take place in Levice, Slovakia from August 3rd – 8th.

Local Limerick lads Ajay Ryan Walsh (Limerick Lions) and Ruairi Cronin (Limerick Celtics) are among the five uncapped players selected.

Reece Barry (Limerick Lions) picked up an Ireland U16 cap in December 2018, in a friendly game against Belarus.

The three Limerick basketball players who will be joining the Irish U18 team heading to Slovakia in August are Ruairi Cronin, Ajay Ryan Walsh and Reece Barry.  

Ajay and Ruairi both attend Castletroy College and play ball in the school leagues while Reece attends St. Munchins College.

There are five uncapped players selected – Joseph Coughlan (Galway Titans), Ruairi Cronin (Limerick Celtics), Ajay Ryan-Walsh (Limerick Lions), Killian Gribben (Letterkenny Blaze/LYIT Donegal) and Cillian O’Connell (Ballincollig Basketball Club), however both Cronin and Gribben featured for Ireland in the FIBA U17 Skills Challenge 2020.

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There are five players chosen who played for Ireland at the 2019 FIBA U16 European Championship in Podgorica, Montenegro – Michael O’Mahony (Fr. Mathews BC), Darragh Ferguson (Belfast Star), Wede Esajobar (Drogheda Wolves), along with twins Tim Pollmann-Daamen (Tralee Imperials/Garvey’s Tralee Warriors) and Sean Pollmann-Daamen (Tralee Imperials/Garvey’s Tralee Warriors). Reece Barry (Limerick Lions) and Jack O’Leary (Blue Demons BC) picked up both their Ireland U16 caps in December 2018, in friendly games against Belarus.

Head Coach Paul Kelleher. Credit: Basketball Ireland

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.” he added.

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.

Full Squad

  • Reece Barry, Limerick Lions
  • Joseph Coughlan, Galway Titans
  • Ruairi Cronin, Limerick Celtics
  • Wede Esajobar, Drogheda Wolves
  • Darragh Ferguson, Belfast Star
  • Killian Gribben, Letterkenny Blaze
  • Cillian O’Connell, Ballincollig BC
  • Jack O’Leary, Blue Demons BC
  • Michael O’Mahony, Fr. Matthews’ BC
  • Sean Pollman-Daamen, Tralee Imperials/Warriors
  • Tim Pollman-Daamen, Tralee Imperials/Warriors
  • Ajay Ryan-Walsh, Limerick Lions

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