Belfast Telegraph

Fulton praises Belfast Star after return to winning ways

By David Kelly

Belfast Star were on the floor just seven days ago but today there is a new optimism around the club following their first victory of the All Ireland Premier League season.

Having been demoralised by their humiliating defeat at the hands of Killester in MCB, they produced a gritty display to win on the road on Saturday night against UL Eagles (69-64) in Limerick.

Pride was well and truly restored and yesterday they almost made it a double success, only going down 75-72 away to Templeogue in the National Basketball Arena after a period of overtime.

Head coach Neal McCotter drove the side to victory on Saturday night but due to business commitments he had to hand over the reins to former boss - and now his assistant - Danny Fulton for the Templeogue tussle.

Fulton insisted the Star men never lost the belief they could turn their season around and while it will take more than one victory to do just that, now the Belfast men are relishing this weekend's first leg of the National Cup against Thunder.

"All credit to the lads, they were very disappointed after the loss to Killester but they trained very hard and truly believed they could go to Limerick and beat the Eagles and that's what they did. Neal did a great job to get them to bounce back the way they did," he said.

"Defensively they were much better on Saturday night and it paid off and it was the same against Templeogue. We were very unfortunate not to win the match."

Star found themselves 14 points down at one stage against the Dubliners yesterday but fought back to lead in the fourth quarter and then with seconds remaining the game seemed to be theirs as they held a three-point lead. But a foul on Phil Taylor as he slotted home a basket allowed him to go to the line and tie the game.

Overtime ensued and the game slipped from Star's grasp despite American Ricky Taylor's 24 points and a superb performance from Keelan Cairns, who scored 16. Taylor also top scored against the Eagles with 21, while Conor Johnston netted 12 points.

Fulton added: "Keelan was great over the weekend, he hit a big three on Saturday night which gave us a lot of momentum and Michael McKillop also had a crucial three against Templeogue."

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