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Darren's dismay as Star shine brightly and go out

By David Kelly

Published 21/11/2016

Court action: James Loughnane takes on Belfast Star’s Paddy McGaharan
Court action: James Loughnane takes on Belfast Star’s Paddy McGaharan

Belfast Star coach Darren O'Neill couldn't hide his bitter disappointment as his side allowed a golden chance to make the semi-finals of the National Cup slip away.

Only trailing Moycullen by a point after the first leg, Star placed themselves in a great position going into the final quarter, leading 70-61, but then the baskets dried up and they went down 84-80 at Methodist College, Belfast.

O'Neill had called for his team to finally rack up a score that could realistically give them a chance of victory and that objective looked in sight as fine performances from American Dillion Stith and Keelan Cairns who scored 33 and 14 points respectively gave them confidence, but a lack of depth in quality is their Achilles heel.

Star must now return to the All Ireland Premier League and seek to revive their fortunes over the coming months.

O'Neill said: "To turn into the last quarter with a 70-61 lead it's very, very frustrating to lose from that position. This was a great chance for us to make the semi-finals because we were not facing one of the elite teams in the league.

"After the first leg we were feeling quite good because we were only trailing by a point and we started well in a game that was much more open than I expected. It was do or die and the game reflected that.

"We probably paid the price for some players having to play too many minutes and going forward we need to have more players stepping up and getting more minutes. Keelan getting into foul trouble hurt us as well because I had to take him out in the third quarter and for the start of the fourth.

"We had plenty of chances to win the game but the bottom line is that we weren't good enough - and that goes for the team right through to the coaching staff.

"But the improvement we need is not going to happen overnight. We have a lot to work on and we won't stop until we get that improvement."

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