Belfast Telegraph

Star ready to test their mettle against the league's best: Fulton

 

By David Kelly

Unlike many managers and coaches, Adrian Fulton isn't one for trying to bluff off the importance of what is a critical period in his club's season.

This weekend Belfast Star have a double header to test the very best as they meet joint All Ireland Super League leaders Killester and Templeogue on Saturday (6.30pm) and Sunday (3.00pm). Then, just six days later, Star will meet UCD Marian in the semi-final of the National Cup in Cork. It could hardly be any tougher.

Star lost their spot at the top of the Super League due to having played a game less than the two Dublin sides along with the fact they went into 2019 on the back of successive defeats. But, Fulton insists the second half of the season is like starting all over again and he is demanding his players seize a glorious opportunity to show they are the premier side in Irish basketball.

"There's no getting away from it, this seven-day period could define our season. We've got three massive games, there's no other way describe it," said Fulton.

"I felt that coming towards Christmas the lads were looking mentally a little tired and we were just a bit off our game but they had 12 days off before getting back to training on New Year's Eve and they're ready to rock - they have to be because we can't afford to have any ring rust against Killester.

"This weekend is going to be a big test for every player as well as the coaches. We have to deal with Saturday's game and then go from there."

American Mike Davis will be critical to Star's shot at silverware, whether in the Super League or the National Cup and Fulton admits that his golden boy has become a marked man.

"There's no doubt that Mike has been targeted in recent games. He has been getting a lot of attention so in some ways he has to raise his game even further. I've no doubt he can," added Fulton.

"Mike has been terrific for us but sides have been double-teaming him so he has to adjust to that but this is a time for everyone to step up - for others to show what they can do."

Fulton revealed that Aidan Quinn is likely to be out for the rest of the season, while his brother Conor trained this week and is expected to be back in action this weekend.

Fulton's 16-year-old son CJ has played a crucial role so far for Star and he is chasing silverware on a third front as part of the club's under-18 National Cup semi-final team.

"I think the break has been great for CJ. He can't wait for the next seven days - like everyone else he is relishing these big games."

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