Carroll the hero as U16s savage Slovak Republic

Shane Whelan

Ireland's U16 Boys' European campaign in Macedonia hit a real high note this week when they produced a superb display to beat the Slovak Republic 73-50.

"I was very proud of the effort by all 12 players, particularly after a couple of tough results," said Ireland's head coach, Dave Baker. "We are determined that Ireland makes a good impression at these finals and the players leave with something positive to work on for the future.

"Beating the Slovak Republic in basketball is no mean feat," added Baker. "We also gave the Armenians a tough game and could have come away with maximum points from that game. It's a real learning experience but so far the team have acquitted themselves excellently."

It was the perfect reward after suffering defeats to Sweden, Hungary, Switzerland and Armenia in their four earlier group games.

John Carroll was inspirational for the boys in green in their win over the Slovaks, with a personal tally of 30 points and nine rebounds, while Aidan Quinn also chipped in with 10 points.

Ireland were quick to signal their intent as they looked to record their first win of the series. A three-pointer from the impressive Quinn was followed by further good work from twin brother Conor Quinn and Anton McDonnell as the Irish opened up an 18-point first-quarter lead over their East European opponents.

The Slovaks desperately tried to claw their way back in the second quarter but Carroll's excellent contribution at both ends kept Ireland firmly in control at half time (33-21).

Ander Caira's jump-shot helped extend the margin in the early stages of the third quarter and, at that stage, it looked increasingly likely that there was no way back for the Slovak Republic, such was Ireland's dominance.

Carroll rounded off his 30-point display with an excellent three-pointer before a final basket from Paddy Lyons sealed a memorable win for Baker's side.

Meanwhile, the Irish U16 girls team will face Switzerland in their opening game of the European Championships, Division B, Group D in Arad, Romania, on August 11 at 13:30.

Ireland also face difficult assignments against Denmark and Germany in what is likely to be a tough group.