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Trophy-laden times have only just begun for Belfast Star, says Conor Quinn

Superleague hero Conor takes up new charity ambassador role

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Champions: Conor Quinn and the Belfast Star squad which won the All-Ireland Superleague Basketball title last season

Champions: Conor Quinn and the Belfast Star squad which won the All-Ireland Superleague Basketball title last season

Champions: Conor Quinn and the Belfast Star squad which won the All-Ireland Superleague Basketball title last season

Conor Quinn's place in Irish basketball history is already secure at the age of 25 - but he insists there is much more to come as a key member of Belfast Star's All Ireland Superleague winning squad.

Conor and twin brother Aidan, who have become ambassadors for Basketball Ireland's link-up with charity AWARE, have been central to Star's revival over the past three years under the guidance of coaches Adrian Fulton and Javan Dupree.

Having come through the Star ranks from childhood along with younger brother Sean, Conor and Aidan are relishing what may lie ahead once the Superleague returns next season as this year's campaign was scrapped by Basketball Ireland due to coronavirus restrictions.

Conor grabbed the headlines and thousands of social media hits with his halfway line buzzer basket that handed Star the Superleague crown for the first time in 20 years and he hopes it is one of many magical moments.

"I feel that the culture at the club has changed now and there are definitely more titles in this team. We have a lot of home grown talent that keeps coming through and to have won the league just gives us a lot more confidence to go on and win more silverware," said Conor.

"We all know the story about the National Cup. It's the one we haven't got yet. The club has come close but I believe that if we stick to focusing on trying to win every game and working really hard in practice then the chance will come to get one. We just can't be too focused on just winning the Cup.

"It's hard at the moment not being able to play. I'm sitting at home at the weekends watching some of the guys I grew up with playing in Europe and we're the only country not playing.

"Winning the Superleague with Star meant so much to me because I walked into the St Malachy's gym as an eight-year-old wanting to learn how to play the sport and to think that years later we are Superleague champions, it means so much to me, Aidan and Sean."

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Conor Quinn of Belfast Star

Conor Quinn of Belfast Star

SPORTSFILE

Conor Quinn of Belfast Star

 

As for that moment when he released the ball just before the buzzer in the final game of the season to seal Superleague glory, Conor is quick to hail the contributions of American Delaney Blaylock and CJ Fulton, son of head coach Adrian.

"There was just 3.2 seconds on the clock when Delaney got the ball and he was so composed because he paused to make sure everybody was in place before passing to CJ and he was equally composed.

"Both of them could have just winged it but CJ made a nice pass to me, I dribbled and then let the shot go and I know this may sound odd but I felt excited and confident it would go in," added Conor, who had only returned from injury two weeks earlier.

"It was a shot that we had actually practiced. In training we would do drills and I had nailed one from the same spot in training so when the opportunity came in the game I didn't have any doubt - maybe that's why it went in."

As an ambassador for AWARE, the 25-year-old says he hopes to be someone who will encourage those around the same age and below to open up about issues that may be troubling them rather than bottle it up.

The tragic rise in mental health problems and suicides in Northern Ireland are chilling and Conor hopes he and Aidan can play a part in offering help to those who need it.

"Life can be so fast-paced for young people that there is no time to stop and take a step back and for sports people it's just the same as they strive for perfection and big achievements which can be hit by injury or bad performances," said Conor.

"I hope that people look at ordinary guys like me highlighting the help of AWARE and feel that there is help they can tap into because there are too many people feeling they have no hope."

Brother Aidan added: "I was really happy when I heard that Basketball Ireland were joining forces with AWARE and I wanted to play some part in spreading the word of the important role that AWARE play in life here in Northern Ireland.

"We all have our ups and downs, but it is the people that we surround ourselves with which is important."

Belfast Telegraph


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