Belfast Telegraph

Keelan Cairns still moving up the gears with Star

By David Kelly

Keelan Cairns insists his best is still to come as he seeks to help Belfast Star secure a place in the end of season Top Four play-offs.

Cairns, who spent time at the University of Pennsylvania playing basketball and studying psychology, admits that after 18 months out through injury he is still progressing towards his optimum contribution for Star.

The Belfast side suffered a gut wrenching two-point National Cup exit at the hands of Swords last weekend and this Sunday they have an immediate opportunity to even the score.

Star's improving performances in recent weeks have coincided with the greater impact of Cairns but he expects even more from himself.

"I know that you haven't seen the best of me, not by a long way," said Cairns.

"I had to have back surgery last year when they shaved off part of a disc in my back. I had that done at home but went back to the States though I didn't play basketball.

"So when I came back to play for Star in the summer I hadn't played for 18 months. I had to get fit and even since August I have lost another stone-and-a-half.

"I feel I am still a work in progress and so is the team but recently we have found our playing style, we know what everyone is doing and we are playing some very good basketball.

"Last week really hurt a lot, for me it was the hardest defeat all season because we know they didn't beat us, we beat ourselves with a lot of silly mistakes.

"Now we have the chance to get some revenge right away on Sunday at MCB - and that is my motivation for this weekend."

While Cairns is determined to help Star raise their game even further, he also believes that long term the Belfast men would once again have a realistic chance of challenging for the All-Ireland Premier League title.

Cairns added: "We have without doubt the best young team around. If this group stays together then in a couple of years there is no reason why we can't be challenging for the title."

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