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Familiar face: Darren O’Neill is out to revitalise Vincent’s

Familiar face: Darren O’Neill is out to revitalise Vincent’s

Familiar face: Darren O’Neill is out to revitalise Vincent’s

All-Ireland Superleague title-winning coach Darren O'Neill has made a shock return to the sport with the mission of revitalising the fortunes of Dublin side Vincent's.

O'Neill, who led Belfast Star to the title in the late 1990s as well as taking Queen's to the National Cup final, will be the boss of the third Dublin side of his career as he has also coached Marian and Killester.

Two years ago, O'Neill ended a short spell as Star coach and it seemed he was ready to call it quits but now he says he has a fresh desire to be part of the Superleague scene once again and the once great Vincent's club are badly in need of a resurgence.

"In some ways, it is a bit like when I returned to coach Star a few years back and they needed a lift. I felt that I left the club in a better state than when I arrived and it's the same challenge with Vincent's. I can't guarantee them a title or cup win but I will guarantee that they will improve," said O'Neill.

"I feel the time is right for me to take on a new challenge and I'm very excited about what we can do with Vincent's over the coming years. There is no magic wand and things won't change overnight but I want to see the mentality change - I want to see the old Vincent's spirit return.

"Any time we played against them in years gone by they had a real grit but that seemed to be lost recently and that has to return. We have some talented players and there are a few other players I'm looking at bringing in."

This season, due to Covid-19, the Superleague will be split into two conferences with a later start in October.

That means O'Neill's new club will be in the same Northern Conference as former side Star, who produced some incredible basketball under the guidance of head coach Adrian Fulton to land the title last season.

"I was delighted to see Star win the title last year - I've got a great relationship with the people at Star. Adrian has done a phenomenal job with the team," added O'Neill.

"It's going to be exciting having to take on the champions and because of the new conference system four Dublin derby battles.

"All my focus is now on getting my players ready for the new season.

"The next couple of months are about showing the lads what I expect from them in terms of how we approach every game."

Belfast Telegraph