Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Star must learn fast ahead of Cup quests

By David Kelly

Belfast Star were given a lesson in the importance of experience at the weekend when their run of victories came to a shuddering halt at the hands of Killester in Clontarf.

Not only did the young players of Star find themselves continually under pressure from the likes of Michael Bonaparte and Isaac Westbrookes in the 87-63 defeat, but American Frank Otis demonstrated that he is still getting used to the All-Ireland Premier League as by the start of fourth quarter he had committed four offensive fouls.

This was the first of three consecutive games between the sides as they now meet over two weekends in the National Cup and the Dubliners will start clear favourites on the back of this victory.

"The league is too important for us to have had any thoughts about future games against Star prior to this one," said Killester head coach Jonathan Grennell.

"The league is our bread and butter and we just aren't good enough yet to have gone into this game thinking we need to hold something back for the cup. I don't know how they played it, but we certainly were all in."

Not only did Bonaparte and Westbrookes sparkle for Killester, but John Behan returned to the side after a two-year absence and the former All-Ireland League winner showed his class as well.

"John came back from Australia in great shape and he is a fantastic addition to the squad. He has won it all before and he adds great experience," added Grennell.

The two sides now now look ahead to their twin Cup battles.

Yesterday at MCB, the Ulster Rockets were hammered 83-46 by the defending women's champions UL Huskies.

It was clear the Rockets were badly missing top players Mairead McNally and Fionnuala Toner and by half time the Huskies had a 23-point lead.

"We did have a very good start and while they were a little under-strength it is always great to get a win on the road," said Huskies head coach James Weldon, who was able to use the game to test out some of his bench.

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