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Fulton thrilled as ace Marello jets in to inspire Star's progress

 

Net gains: Ben Marello was in superb form for Belfast Star
Net gains: Ben Marello was in superb form for Belfast Star
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Clearance for Ben Marello to play only came through on Saturday morning but 24 hours after he landed in Dublin the American was contributing a key part in Belfast Star's passage to the quarter-finals of the National Cup.

Having travelled to Galway on Friday night not knowing whether or not Marello would be starting, coach Adrian Fulton managed to integrate him into his side who rose to the occasion against Maree, triumphing 90-75.

Marello top scored with Fulton's son CJ on 18 points, while Liam Pettigrew also excelled with 13 points in a fine all-round performance. Aidan Quinn had 12.

But it was the sparkling performance of a jet-lagged Marello - who had come in for the injured Delaney Blaylock -that caught the eye as he gave everything from the opening buzzer.

Star will now look ahead to a November 30 quarter-final clash at home to high-flying Eanna and coach Fulton will be relieved to know that he has found someone to fill Blaylock's boots for the next couple of months.

"All credit to Ben for essentially only getting off the plane and giving us that kind of performance," said Fulton.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game and of course going into it without an American would have made it even harder. But Ben stepped up and so did the other lads. I thought both Liam Pettigrew and Dominic Lynn were very good for us."

Star then had the ridiculous demands of having to head off early yesterday morning to County Kerry for an All-Ireland Superleague clash with Killorglin, losing 81-79 despite a dramatic fourth-quarter fightback having trailed by 12 for long periods.

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