Paul Kelly and James Connaire played for Ireland U18 Boys in the European Championships in Kosovo in July and helped their country to a creditable bronze medal position. The team played in Portugal the week before in a tournament with the host nation and Holland and also travelled to Austria and Macedonia in the days prior to the start to prepare for the contest.
Wins against Malta, Monaco, Aemenia & Moldova set the team up for a semi final against the hosts Kosovo. Unfortunately, size and physicality counted on this occasion and Kosovo went through on a 69-55 scoreline. Paul suffered a heavy fall in the second quarter which ended his tournament prematurely and Ireland were left to wonder what might have been. Starting every game, he was the competition’s top performer for assists and controlled the offence with great authority. James’ best performance came in the bronze medal game with Monaco as he scored 13 points, had 8 rebounds and four assists. His contribution in the closing twenty seconds, converting two free throws and the assist for Nathan Moore’s decisive three pointer with 2.9 seconds left on the clock was key. Both Paul and James are eligible again next year and will be hopeful of future successes.