Rising Belfast Star inspired by comeback king Cairns
Belfast Star coach Neal McCotter hailed the performance of Keelan Cairns after his side came away from Dublin with a 70-63 victory over DCU Saints in the All Ireland Premier League.
Star's season is now gathering some real momentum on the back of this second win on the road allied to their first leg National Cup quarter-final victory over Swords.
"Keelan was great around the boards, defensively he did a great job and all round he is giving us so much more," said McCotter.
"His confidence is higher and it's the same for the whole team, we are a lot tougher mentally and it is showing in games now because we are getting over the line whereas before we were letting games slip away.
"Keelan is coming back after hardly playing for 18 months, he has dropped two stone in weight and is still getting through some injuries and getting fitter with every match. His attitude has been great and in many ways he is leading from the front, showing everyone else what can be done.
"This is a great win for us - I always believed there was very little between most of the teams in the league and we just needed that little bit more confidence and belief to start getting the wins."
Star's performance was arguably their most consistent of the season as there were no sudden dips in form in each quarter.
American Ricky Taylor was once again top scorer for Star with 23 points, while Michael McKillop had 14 and Cairns 11. The Belfast side are now up to fifth in the table.
McCotter added: "We were much more aggressive in going to the basket, Ricky got a lot of lay-ups and we went to the free throw line 32 times.
"We have Neptune next week at home and that's a game we have to be very confident going into.
"There is a real sense in the team that we are really ready to match up against anyone," he added.