Basketball: O'Neill vents his fury at McVeigh
Published 24/12/2007 | 08:15
Just as Stephen Dawson received praise from coach Darren O'Neill, Belfast Star team-mate Ciaran McVeigh felt his wrath after a 107-101 victory over University of Ulster on Saturday night in the UUJ Sports Centre.
McVeigh (18) was on the receiving end of O'Neill's version of Sir Alex Ferguson's famous hairdryer treatment after a moment of petulance in the fourth quarter saw him commit a rash foul on Gary Connolly.
Immediately O'Neill replaced him with Chris Smye, who had a fine game throughout and ultimately it seemed that Star's extra strength on the bench gave them the edge.
UU coach Deirdre Brennan disagreed, saying: " We missed too many free throws down the stretch and that made the difference. We could have won it - next year we'll take two wins off Star."
McVeigh was not to return to the court and O'Neill made it clear just how annoyed he was with his young point guard.
"He lost his discipline at a crucial point in the game and you just can't do that. There was no way I was bringing him back on. Even if we had five players who fouled out, I would probably have called for my daughter first. It's a lesson he has to learn from," rapped coach O'Neill.
Dawson impressed O'Neil, however, with his energetic display at both ends of the court and when Star were in need of a little inspiration he delivered along with Bobby Kelly.
Kelly headed back to Boston after another clinical performance for Star, claiming 35 points while clubmate Nick Michaels ironically had his best game ahead of his release.
Michaels, who has failed to sparkle for the majority of the first half of the season, will be replaced by fellow American Mark Clements.
Star got off to a poor start and at one stage UU were 17 points ahead in the first quarter but the class of Smye and Kelly had them just a point behind midway through the second.
In the last seconds, Kelly came up with a superb three to incredibly hand Star a 56-55 lead at the break.
While Brian Nieman and Gareth Maguire were in fine form for UU, Adrian Gross was less effective and Star entered the final quarter 87-76 ahead.
But there were further twists in this absorbing clash and Nieman came up with a hat-trick of 'threes' to make sure UU had closed to gap to just two and with three minutes remaining a basket from Connolly tied the game at 99-99.
American Michaels then slotted home the crucial basket of the match when he downed a fine three-pointer. Kelly added two more points as UU's offence generally went to pieces.