Fulton joy as Star sparkle to set up big Trophy finale
It was supposed to be the Champions Trophy double-header from hell but instead the Belfast Star men made it a heavenly adventure from Dublin to Tralee within 24 hours.
Having hammered Marian 84-43 in the quarter-finals on Saturday night, they made the long trek to Tralee and yesterday afternoon took down the newly-crowned All-Ireland Superleague champions Warriors 81-65 to record their biggest win of the season and secure a final showdown with Templeogue.
Just when it seemed Star's season was going to finish with a whimper after leading the Superleague at Christmas and making the National Cup semi-finals, when losing to Marian, they can now end it with their first piece of silverware for 15 years in two weeks' time.
Coach Adrian Fulton said: "I'm very pleased with the attitude of our players and they deserve to be in a national final. Their commitment all season has been rewarded but we want to go all the way now.
"Tralee played really hard as you would expect from the league champions so I'm delighted with the squad over the two games this weekend because it's never easy having to perform back-to-back after a lot of travelling but they showed their character again.
"We know we will be up against another excellent team in the final but we will be giving it a real good go. I think what typified the spirit in the squad this weekend was that Mike Thiep only played about six minutes in the UCD game on Saturday night, just down to match-ups, but we really needed him against Tralee to compete with their size and he was terrific.
"Everyone made a significant contribution over the weekend and that's why we earned the right to play in a national final for the first time in 15 years."