We need to change our mentality, insists Star boss O'Neill
Darren O'Neill is expecting nothing less than a rough ride for his Belfast Star men as he returns to lead them through another All Ireland Superleague campaign.
Star entertain UL Eagles in their opening match at Methodist College tonight (7pm) and O'Neill says it is the start of a process of understanding what it requires for the Star to be truly competitive at this level.
The pre-season games have not gone exactly according to plan with three defeats followed this week by a friendly victory over the Elks who have returned to the Men's Division One scene this season.
Straight-talking O'Neill is eager to see his players respond to the challenge of the Superleague's top sides and the Eagles will offer an immediate test.
"I don't know a lot about the Eagles, we're going in a little blind which is not great but over the years they have always been a strong side and we will have to be on it from the start but the work I have to do is not a sprint - it's about developing the players over a long period of time," said O'Neill, who won the title with Star in the 1990s.
"More than anything else it is about changing the mentality of the team. When you lose too many games it is easy to not expect to win, to be tentative and that shows in your play. We are in a process of getting rid of that, the players have to be tougher and show the mentality needed to win."
Star will have Americans Greg Womack and Eric Benedict on the bench tonight though both will cannot be on the court at the same time. That's the case even though Benedict has an Irish passport.
"I need my Americans to hit the ground running. They know the pressure on them and they have to respond if we are going to do well in this league," added O'Neill.
Meanwhile, the Elks will start their Division One campaign next weekend away to Donegal.