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New-look Star braced for tough title defence: Fulton

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Head coach Adrian Fulton

Head coach Adrian Fulton

Stephen Hamilton

Head coach Adrian Fulton

Belfast Star coach Adrian Fulton admits that his men are facing up to a very tough challenge to retain the All-Ireland Superleague title.

Star will begin their defence of the Championship on October 17 away to UCD without three key men from their glorious season, capped off when Conor Quinn won the title with a last-second, halfway line basket.

American Delaney Blaylock has signed for BT Odessa in Ukraine, Keelan Cairns has moved to Cork and Adrian's son CJ has touched down at The Winchendon School, Boston on a scholarship.

Star have been working hard to bolster their roster ahead of the season but have been hit by issues with bringing in a new American, though they are particularly pleased to have snapped up Birmingham's Johnny Foulds for a campaign that will see the league split into northern and southern conferences.

Coach Fulton said: "It's been a difficult time for everybody and there are obviously bigger things than basketball going on in the world at the moment. I think we have to be thankful that we have a league to play in and just get on with it.

"People talk about retaining the title but the reality is that this will be a new team. The club is looking to retain the title but three big members of last year's team will not be there. We can't look to replace those players, we have to adapt and go forward with a new team and we'll be just as hungry for success as last year.

"It was by no means a perfect season last year, we didn't do well in the Cup and I think there are areas we can improve on. But also we had some very big performances from guys like Aidan Quinn and Liam Pettigrew and we want to see them build on that. I expect Dominic Lynn to kick on as well and it will be great to have a fit Conor Quinn for the whole season."

This campaign will see Star have 16 regular season games, six fewer than last year due to the new Covid-impacted format as well as the National Cup.

Fulton added: "It's going to be tough but we won't be making excuses, our attitude is about finding solutions and one of those is making sure we get a good American. We had somebody signed but then he backed away."

Belfast Telegraph