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Star end their run of defeats but Oliver out for the season

 

By David Kelly

Belfast Star suffered a huge blow with the loss of American Ryan Oliver but still managed to end a run of defeats in the All Ireland Superleague with an 80-75 victory over Moycullen.

Oliver fractured his arm, an injury he suffered last year when playing for the Ulster Elks, and is consequently out for the rest of the season which leaves coach Darren O'Neill seeking a new professional.

It would have been easy for the Star men to have dropped their heads on the back of a losing streak and the exit of their American but instead they rose to the occasion, taking a 42-30 lead into the break and then digging deep to take the victory.

Aidan Quinn sparkled for Star as he top scored on 20, while Frenchman Clement Kulinicz hit 18 and American Garret Galvin finished on 14 along with Keelan Cairns.

"I feel the lads showed a lot of character to win this match. I told them before the game that if they could 80 points they would win the game because of the tough defence we can play and that's what happened," said coach O'Neill.

"It was tough not having Ryan and it's very unfortunate that his season has come to an end like this. He hurt it a couple of weeks ago and went for an x-ray but nothing was seen but then it became clear that he had fractured it.

"I suppose that would explain some of his recent below-par performances. We played Garret more and he did a very good job defensively. I also must say that the five big rebounds from Matthew Jackson were crucial."

O'Neill is now hopeful of finding a new American this week as he prepares his side for this Saturday's hope game against Tralee.

"We are in talks at the moment and I would hope that we could even have the guy in by Wednesday," added O'Neill.

"There's a lot still to play for as we are not that far off the top four and at the moment it's a wide open league."

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