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Fulton delighted to see ace Quinn return and lead Star to victory

 

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Delaney Blaylock

Delaney Blaylock

Freddie Parkinson

Delaney Blaylock

Conor Quinn produced an amazing comeback on Saturday night to inspire Belfast Star to a victory away to Maree, keeping them joint top of the All-Ireland Superleague.

Irish international Quinn hadn't played for 10 months due to an injury to his left elbow, which required surgery in the summer, but made a return to action sooner than expected in the absence of Star's regular point guard CJ Fulton, who twisted an ankle during a schools' match for St Malachy's 24 hours earlier.

Clearly nervous at the start of the game, Quinn pulled the strings for Star, who gave one of their most impressive defensive displays all season, while Keelan Cairns was also outstanding for the Belfast men, top scoring on 20 points. American Delaney Blaylock hit 18 points and Quinn's brother Aidan 16.

Star coach Fulton hailed the performance of comeback kid Quinn on a night when Star's title hopes were bolstered by Killester's surprise 86-73 victory over Championship-chasing Eanna.

"I hadn't planned to bring Conor back until the game against Moycullen in two weeks' time but after CJ got injured I told him I believed he was ready and he was just fantastic for us. Mind you, he was really gassed at the end!" said Fulton.

"Credit to Conor, because it wasn't a physical issue for him to return but a mental one because he had to feel confident he could play at the top level again. For the most of last season he had played with one arm and was protecting the left arm and his body had over-compensated so much that in training he virtually had to get used to properly using his left hand again.

"But he showed great character and was brilliant the way he ran the show for us. Point guard is such a specialised position and we needed his experience. It was great to see him back and also to see him on the court in a Star shirt at the same time as his brother Aidan for the first time in four years due to injuries and their time spent in the States.

"I said before the game that this was going to be a critical game and that's how it proved. Keelan was excellent for us - right from the start he was shooting really well and because he is so tall that forced Maree's big men to come out and defend, which left room for the likes of Aidan Quinn and Delaney to exploit."

Fulton was also quick to praise the performance of Dominic Lynn. He said: "Dominic is naturally very athletic and he was really zoned in from the start and at both ends of the court he was very good. All-round, we once again showed great resilience."

Belfast Telegraph