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Star boys are to the four as Ireland eye European adventures

 

By David Kelly

The Irish men's basketball team is truly back in business after a decade in the wilderness and two Belfast Star men, Keelan Cairns and Aidan Quinn, will be playing their part.

Cairns and Quinn are in the Irish squad for next week's European championships, while Star of the Sea's Connor McDonnell and the sensational CJ Fulton have been picked for the Irish Under-16 squad which heads to the European B Championships this summer.

Cairns and Quinn are in the senior squad which for a decade was off the European map. Due to a lack of funds, Basketball Ireland simply could not afford to have a team but that has all changed.

Quinn, one of the most consistent performers for Star in the All Ireland Super League this season, is delighted to be part of the squad who are aiming to make a big impact when they travel to San Marino.

"It's great to be part of this Irish side which has a lot of young players in it. It's going to be a big challenge but we believe we can go and win the tournament," said Quinn.

"We are in the Small Countries category because we are just getting back into European competition and the goal is to get promoted into the B Championships.

"It's not going to be easy, we're going to have some tough games against the likes of Norway and Malta but we are feeling confident."

Quinn believes his season back with Star after a period of time playing college basketball in the States has helped him be ready for the international stage.

He added: "It was tough making the transition from college to the Super League. When I came back I could see that the Super League standard has gone up and it was a real challenge for me but thankfully I played well in a couple of the games that the Irish coach was watching so I got picked."

As for the Under-16 lads, St Malachy's College lads Fulton and McDonnell will be aiming to play key roles for the Irish.

Fulton's dad and former Irish senior captain Adrian said: "I'm really pleased for Connor because he broke his leg at the start of the season and we weren't sure if would be able to play at all so to see him get picked for Ireland is great.

"CJ learned a lot from playing in the European Championships last year and that experience played a big part in the success he has had this year with St Malachy's. It's a great tournament for both guys."

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