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Busy run: Adrian Fulton says little can be done about Belfast Star’s fixture pile-up

Busy run: Adrian Fulton says little can be done about Belfast Star’s fixture pile-up

Busy run: Adrian Fulton says little can be done about Belfast Star’s fixture pile-up

Belfast Star's defence of the All Ireland Superleague title will be delayed until next month due to the impact of Covid.

The Superleague tips off this weekend but Star, with the agreement of Basketball Ireland, have postponed their opening three games and so the start of their campaign will be on November 7 away to Eanna.

Coach Adrian Fulton revealed that new American James Claar has yet to arrive due to a visa issue expected to be sorted this week and, when the 6ft 9' ace does touch down, he will have to face a 14-day quarantine period. Liam Pettigrew - a key man last season - is also isolating due to his girlfriend testing positive for the virus.

Fulton's men had been lined up for two friendlies last weekend against Eanna and DCU but both had to be cancelled. Clearly it is not the ideal preparation for Star's defence of the title and will mean they will face the demands of double during the season headers to complete their fixtures.

Fulton said: "It's just the situation we are in at the moment and we have to deal with the fact that by the time we come to play Eanna, they will be up and running having played three games just like most of the other teams will be ahead of us in terms of settling into the season.

"But it makes sense for everybody that we are delaying our start. I know that many of the teams down south were not keen to travel due to the rise in cases we are facing and even when I rang DCU coach Darren O'Neill about cancelling, he explained that he was about to ring me to do the same because his players were not ready to travel.

"I think it's fair to say that we just don't know what this season is going to be like but we'll do everything to hold on to the title."

Star have also had to find a new home for the campaign. De La Salle College was unavailable and so they will be playing in the Lisburn Racquets gym.

Along with Claar, the Superleague champions have also added hot shot Paul Dick to their roster as well as Englishman Jonathan Foulds and Fulton was delighted to welcome back Fearghal Toner to the squad.

"Fearghal spent last year in Australia due to work but is back with us and looking very fit. It's great to have someone of his quality in the squad," he said.

"Paddy McGaharan has also returned and, of course, we will have a healthy Conor Quinn this season which is a major boost."

Belfast Telegraph