Johnston: Davis and CJ key to Star's bid for place in final
Belfast Star are on the brink of heading back to the All-Ireland Cup final for the first time in 20 years and captain Conor Johnston says his men are ready to deliver.
Star clash with Dubliners UCD Marian in Cork on Saturday afternoon, while later that night Tralee Warriors meet Killester in the other last-four clash.
It is without doubt the biggest game in a couple of decades for Star, who currently sit joint second in the All Ireland Super League on the back of a fine victory over Killester which was followed by a two-point defeat at the hands of table toppers Templeogue last weekend.
Johnston has been a key player throughout the campaign but he points to the mercurial skills of American Mike Davis and the raw, electrifying talent of 16-year-old CJ Fulton when considering what may just edge Star into the Cup decider.
"It wouldn't be overstating things to say that we need Mike to be in top form this weekend," says Johnston. "He gives us so much and you don't need me or anyone else to say it - you just have to look at how in recent weeks the other clubs have been double-teaming him and putting so much pressure on Mike. Yet, he keeps delivering for us - and that tells you how good a player he is.
"He can come with something special in a game that turns things around and that's what you need. Marian are going to be really up for this, just like ourselves and I think we can expect another tight game just like the ones we had at the weekend."
While Star lost to Templeogue on Sunday, Johnston insists the players were not too downcast.
"After losing two games before Christmas we needed to show that we are still in the mix for the title and we did that with the way we beat Killester and only lost by a basket to Templeogue," added Johnston.
"I just felt that coming up to Christmas we were mentally and physically drained so the break did everyone good and we are back firing again."
As for teenage sensation Fulton, son of head coach Adrian, the Star captain says he has proved to be the surprise package of the season.
"When the season started we all thought that CJ would be just training with us and maybe coming off the bench at times but he has been amazing - the best surprise we could have hoped for," said Johnston.
"For someone so young to be so composed is great and he's a very nice kid. He has got it all but he doesn't get carried away and he has turned into one of our best players - arguably our player of the year so far."