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Quinn seals miracle to keep Star in hunt

 

Conor Quinn

With 3.2 seconds remaining Belfast Star's All Ireland Superleague title dream was dead. Neptune were in possession of the ball and a point ahead and then came the miracle of De La Salle College.

Seemingly about to secure a sensational comeback victory, the Cork men were forced into a poor pass. American Delaney Blaylock seemed to appear from nowhere to take possession before passing to CJ Fulton who slipped across to Conor Quinn and from just inside the halfway line he drilled the shot of a lifetime. Cue manic celebrations that shook the foundations of the court as Star triumphed 79-77.

Earlier in the season Neptune had lost to a full court basket but this was even more painful having come from 20 points down at the break to rattle the Belfast men who finished their league campaign at home unbeaten.

The winning basket was particularly poignant as Quinn returned only last month after a long period out through injury, which required surgery.

Now Star are waiting to see whether they enter the final weekend three points ahead or behind defending champions Tralee Warriors who are away to Neptune.

Tralee were fined for playing an American in three games -which included a loss to Star -but the Belfast club, as well as the Basketball Ireland Competitions Committee, insist that according to the rules they should also be deducted six points. The appeal will be heard tomorrow and a decision is expected to be announced on Thursday.

An elated Star head coach Adrian Fulton said: "Maybe it's written in the stars that it is our year, who knows… anything can happen now. We have the appeal and then both Tralee and ourselves have two tough away games. It's been an incredible season and Saturday night's finish was unreal.

"I can't remember a finish quite like it for our club. The celebrations when Conor's shot dropped were off the charts. I thought our chairman Bill McCotter was going to have a heart attack.

"Credit to the boys because they were so cool under pressure. They never know when they're beaten and the way Delaney and CJ showed so much composure to set up Conor was amazing and then to see Conor hit the winning basket was amazing. He didn't just throw it up in hope, he actually shot the ball and as it left his hand I told my assistant JD 'it's in' - what a way to win a game and keep out title hopes alive.

"It was a sensational basket but it's not the first time he has done it because at the end of every practice we have a bit of craic where we have two teams whose final shot is a halfway attempt and we've seen him do that on more than one occasion.

"But, it's one thing doing it in practice and another when everything is on the line. Some of the Neptune guys thought the buzzer had already sounded but we had video that confirmed he let the shot go before hooter."

Fulton also hailed the support his side have enjoyed all season.

"The fans have been amazing this year. They have seen some very exciting basketball and have given the guys a rel lift when they have need it," he added.

Belfast Telegraph