Star's main men go missing as the Quinn twins show their class in painful defeat
Twins Aidan and Conor Quinn personify what it means to play in the blue shirt of Belfast Star but they were badly let down by the insipid performances of too many of their team-mates in a fourth consecutive defeat yesterday.
Astonishingly, the two worst culprits of going missing when the heat was on were professionals Ryan Oliver and Clement Kulinicz, while coach Darren O'Neill must be expecting much more from local man Keelan Cairns. Quite simply, Oliver and Kulinicz fiddled as Star's hopes of victory burned, going down 84-75 at the hands of Demons in the All-Ireland Superleague.
Demons will have travelled back to Cork wondering how they managed to scratch out a victory. Stats do not tell the whole story but Star had 71 shots in comparison to their 49 efforts and still the Belfast men lost.
It will not have been lost on Star coach O'Neill that his side were only brought back into contention in this game by a five-minute period at the end of the third quarter when his second starting five were on the court. That included Aidan Quinn, who - with Star trailing by nine - came up with three three-point bombs to ignite their supporters and the belief within his side that victory was possible.
His passion along with the hunger of Matthew Jackson and Fearghal Toner gave Star a different feel and Aidan immediately stole the ball and converted at the start of the fourth quarter to make it a one-point game.
Brother Conor exemplified the same fighting spirit and came up with two baskets to tie the game at 68 apiece. But with two minutes remaining, he was the victim of an appalling decision by referee Linda Cassidy, whose overall performance was poor.
Lying on the floor, Conor was about to be crushed by a falling 15st Lehmon Colbert and took evasive action with an outstretched leg only for Cassidy to award a foul and allow Demons to edge ahead, a position from which they never looked back.
This was not a game lost on ability but desire. Demons had it in abundance, while Star's cup was half empty.
"Offensively we were poor. Although I don't like giving up 85 points, a lot of those came about because of poor options offensively which allowed them to run down and easily convert. It's a very frustrating loss," said Star boss O'Neill. "We know we can play a lot better than that."
He will surely be hoping that Oliver and Kulinicz are listening and subsequently deliver performances that reflect their talent.