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McCotter has sense of deja vu as Star wait for title decision



Bill McCotter

Bill McCotter

Bill McCotter

Belfast Star and Tralee Warriors are hoping to find out shortly who has won the 2019-20 All-Ireland Superleague title.

Basketball Ireland have announced that the sport is now in lockdown due to the coronavirus. As the Superleague stands, Tralee are three points ahead with the final weekend of fixtures scrapped.

However, the Warriors were earlier in the season found to have not correctly registered American Andre Berry for three games, including a defeat at the hands of Star just before Christmas. Basketball Ireland's Men's National Competitions Committee (MNCC) ruled that the six points won by Tralee along with a fine of €390 be imposed on the defending champions.

But an appeal by Tralee saw the points deduction dropped by an independent appeals committee. Consequently, the MNCC confirmed they would appeal the decision and that was heard on Tuesday with a decision expected to be announced shortly.

Star chairman Bill McCotter feels he has been down this path before when his club were in pursuit of title glory.

"In 2001 when we had the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, Killester were declared champions with five games remaining. At the time of the league being halted we were on an unbeaten run of six games and just three points behind Killester - just as we are now three points behind Tralee," said McCotter.

"Whatever the decision of the appeal, we as a club will abide by the decision. I just hope that a winner of the league is declared because everyone who has taken part in what has been an amazing season should know their efforts were not in vain.

"Whoever is declared the Superleague champions, the debate will go on for some time about the rights and wrongs of the decision."

Should Tralee not have six points deducted, it will leave a real stain on the sport and their title success having played a player who was not registered.

If the appeal is upheld and the defending champions do lose their points then it would seem only fair that Star are deemed to be the Superleague winners for the first time in 21 years.

If that were to be the case then Star's Conor Quinn will go down in history as having landed the most dramatic basket ever to win a title. Last weekend, just before the buzzer, he launched the ball from the halfway line to clinch a 79-77 win over Neptune.

Belfast Telegraph