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Star shrug off nightmare spell to stay in the mix

By David Kelly

Published 24/10/2016

On the ball: Paddy Mullan was prominent for Belfast Star
On the ball: Paddy Mullan was prominent for Belfast Star

Belfast Star suffered arguably the worst quarter of basketball in their history but still managed to place themselves in a very promising position at the halfway stage of their National Cup quarter-final with Moycullen.

Star eventually lost 72-71 despite winning three of the four quarters on Saturday night in Moycullen but it was the second quarter nightmare which proved decisive. A shameful two points were garnered in the 10-minute period, leaving head coach Darren O’Neill and assistant Danny Fulton wondering if they had entered a parallel universe.

But, the overall picture looks bright for Star as they seek to make the semi-finals of the Cup for the first time in over a decade — the home second leg coming up next month.

“If you had given me a one point defeat before Saturday’s match I would probably have gladly taken it but this was a game I felt we should have won,” said O’Neill, who was once again pleased with the performances of Keelan Cairns, Conor Johnston and the improving Paddy Mullan.

Star had made a solid start, going 24-14 up, but then came their time in the scoring wilderness and by the end of the half they were down by 10.

O’Neill said: “In all my years of coaching basketball from 11-year-olds up to international I can’t remember having a side that only scored two points in a quarter and we didn’t get those until two minutes from the end.

“It was just incredible to see shot after shot fail to drop in the basket. How we went from what had happened in the first quarter is beyond me.

“But, the up side is that the lads showed a lot of character to come out and win the last two quarters. They got things going again and played some good basketball and that is encouraging ahead of the second leg.”

This Saturday night Star travel back to Moycullen for their All Ireland Premier League clash and O’Neill is confident.

“We are capable of beating them and if we can keep it going over the four quarters the win is there to be taken,” he said. “We’ll also have our new point guard Will Hopper in from Sheffield and Liam Pettigrew will be back.”

National Cup: UCD Marian 95 Radisson Blu UL Eagles 68; SSE Airtricity Moycullen 72 Belfast Star 71; Templeogue 96 UCC Demons 87; Pyrobel Killester 69 DCU Saints 70; Irish TV Tralee Warriors 61 Griffith Swords Thunder 55; KUBS BC 72 Commercial.ie Éanna 65

Women’s Super League: NUIG 74 Singleton SuperValu Brunell 60; Ambassador UCC Glanmire 61 Courtyard Liffey 54 Celtics; Pyrobel Killester 73 Meteors 63; Portlaoise 67 (62) WIT Wildcats 71 (62)

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