Belfast Star u14A 2013-14 : League Champioms
Brian McCreanor &
6.00pm - 7.45pm
Sunday 13th October
Home to Letterkenny Blaze, 1.30pm (Won 67-4)
Saturday 26th October
Home to Queens, 2.15pm
Saturday 16 November
Away to Tyrone Towers
Sunday 8th December
Home to Blackwater Steelers, (Won 41-31)
Sunday 22nd December
Away to Letterkenny Blaze,
Saturday 11th January
Away to Queens, 2pm Methody
Saturday 8th March
Away to Blackwater Steelers, 1.30pm
Star complete league with a 100% record, beat Steelers 45-34
Star u14A created a little bit of history on Saturday, closing out their league campaign with a victory over tough opponents Blackwater Steelers and ensuring they remained unbeaten all season. It is now 3 seasons in a row that this team has competed this feat, something never done before in the long and storied history of this club, and a tremendous way to mark the club's 50th anniversary - the future is in good hands if this group can reach their potential.
The team welcomed back Ronan O'Neill into the fold for this game, on account of several injuries and unavailability, and he set about doing what Ronan does best, making significant contributions on both ends by forcing several turnovers and showing great decision-making offensively.
Star showed yet another different look for this one, as Conor Ryan took over the reins for the first quarter of play to allow 'Sshhwaap Bro' CJ time to catch his breath following his exhortations in the preceding u12 game. He didn't skip a beat, nailing two crucial '3's to keep the scoreboard in check as Star weathered the predictable blood & thunder opening from a tough and ever-improving opponent. With Peter Henvey picking up 3 fouls, Star had to hang tough, and Conor Cooke stepped up to the plate with a huge 1st quarter contribution on both ends, to leave the team levels at the break at 11-11.
As the Steeler's intensity waned a bit with personnel changes for the second quarter, Star began to establish a grip on the tempo of the game. A refreshed CJ Fulton took the baton off Conor Ryan and drove his team forward on the offensive end, while Daniel Hackett took responsibility defensively and locked up BNI team-mate and potential danger-man I. Gonzalez, holding him to one score in the quarter.
Niall McGinnity continued his fine form of late, and is really becoming a monster on the boards, collecting 9 in this shift on both ends and importantly scoring with offensive put-backs. The short hooter arrived with Star carving out a 6 point lead on 23-17.
The team went out for the Money quarter with their ears ringing from their coaches about the fundamentals, having shipped more turnovers - in particular Travelling violations - in one half than they had given up in any whole game all season. The coaches got the response they were looking for with a disciplined, aggressive performance, CJ Fulton & Conor Ryan upping the pressure in the backcourt, and the twin towers of Conor Cooke & Niall McGinnity owning the paint.
Star vs Steelers contd... Conor Cooke borrowed his team-mate's nickname for one memorable defensive play, administrating a 'Serge Ibaka' spike to a Steeler's attempted lay-up, which helped fire the team up further. Peter Henvey, nursing a bit of foul trouble, began to get into the game, connecting on some sweet back-door cuts to open up the Steeler defence, and the game was cracked open, Star leading 35-19 at the end of the quarter.
As ever, Steelers wouldn't go away and fought hard to the end, led by the excellent Andrew O'Connor who rattled in 8 points in the fourth quarter. However, Star's greater depth was just too much to overcome, as Daniel Hackett, Kevin McColgan, Dermott Maguire, Oisin Donaghy and the returning Ronan O'Neill kept the tempo and the scoreboard moving, and Star ran out victors by 45-34. You always need to go and earn your 'W' in St. McCarten's, it's never ever given away easily by tough hosts, but the team showed commendable spirit and discipline to get this job done and create a little bit of club history. However, the coaching staff will be looking hard at the fundamental errors that crept in to this game, and will expect the whole team to be addressing these and working on them in the lead up to the play-offs. This Unit is edging closer and closer to a break-out performance right across the whole team, both offensively and defensively, and their timing could well be just right as the season reaches its climax...
Star consign Phoenix to the ashes, remain unbeaten
The u14As welcomed a very good Phoenix team to St.Malachy's 'Gaaaden' on Saturday, emerging victorious 51-25 as they attempt to close out an unbeaten league campaign - again - with one game to go away to old rivals Blackwater Steelers.
Phoenix had to go without BNI player Peter Corr who was a last minute scratch, but with fellow BNI players Lynn & Bagio stepping up to the plate, Star had to put in a disciplined shift to ensure the W.
Niall McGinnity set the tone right from the start with an MVP performance, and with the help of Daniel Hackett, made this a statement game by dominating the paint on both ends of the floor. In fact, the Royal Mail sponsored 'Special Delivery' of the game was duly served up by the big man with a deft no-look bounce pass to a cutting Hackett for a beautiful lay up. All five starters got in on the scoring act as Star established a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, as Star executed superbly in the half court under the direction of Conor Ryan, and maintained their trademark defensive intensity. Kevin McColgan had his best game of the season, getting out on the break to score and defensively making a general nuisance of himself. As the quarter wore on, Phoenix found it tough to keep up with the high tempo of a very fit unit, as they extended the lead to 33-14 at the short hooter.
The 3rd quarter started and finished with two plays straight out of the top drawer, which pleased the coaches and drew gasps from the home support. Matthew Mulholland and Daniel Hackett executed a superb pick-and-roll option out of one of the offences which was a joy to behold on the very first play of the half. And, with 4 seconds remaining on the clock, CJ Fulton connected on a Tony Parker 'floataa' from a lovely dribble hand-off from Niall McGinnity as the hooter blew, it really was fantastic to see.
Star saw the game out in the 4th quarter in a disciplined way, which was required as Phoenix mounted a final push to try and get back into contention. Each player on the team continues to improve their understanding of their role within this team, and this becomes apparent when you see a good team like Phoenix being held to 25 points on the defensive end, and the spread of scoring is right across the whole team on the offensive end, signs of superb ball movement and growing trust in everybody's abilities. In a game where the team put in excellent performances across the board, Niall 'Ibaka' McGinnity got deserved recognition for a great all-round effort, but has now raised the bar again for the team standards.
Star u14a Truck keeps rollin' vs Dungannon
Star u14A team made short work of a valiant Dungannon team on Saturday, recording a 54-5 win in a rather one-sided affair, though the visitors' cause was not helped by having to play a tough and well-contested match a few hours beforehand against the ever-improving Star u14b team.
The A team - the majority of whom had caused big ripples to reverberate across Ireland when helping St. Malachy's scalp the much-fancied 'Bish' school from Galway earlier in the week - brought their good form and increasing confidence into St. Malachy's 'Gaaaden', and went about their business in a disciplined fashion.
The coaches looked at a few different line-ups for this one, to see how players would adjust their game and focus on the play, and must have been satisfied. Dermott Maguire, gaining in confidence with every game, and the Osh-man Donaghy started on the wings along with CJ Fulton, with Peter Henvey & Conor Cooke working the paint, and put in a great performance, 'grannying' Dungannon in the first quarter on a scoreline of 16-0.
The second quarter group picked up the baton and continued to play in a disciplined way, and with Conn Doherty getting a rare chance to start in the '3' spot, this unit was able to dominate both inside and outside.
Niall McGinnity ran the floor superbly, and both himself and Daniel Hackett demonstrated much improved discipline and control to continually make the right options, to the benefit of Kevin McColgan and Conor Ryan who cashed in as the pace never dipped the whole quarter. Much to the annoyance of the coaches, this 5 even executed a much-practiced side-line play, which will cost the coaching staff team Subways all round next time out.
The second half was played in much the same vein as the first, and it was encouraging to see the team stay focused on the job-in-hand and 'the next play', which can be difficult in situations like this. Dungannon, true to their heritage, never gave up and kept at it to the end, but fatigue from their efforts in the earlier game certainly didn't help their cause.
The game finished with Star taking a comfortable win on a scoreline of 54-5, to remain unbeaten with only a few games to go. Can they go through to the dance unbeaten again? It was gratifying to see everyone play well and play hard, and MVP was awarded to Rory Brolly for keeping his concentration enough to run the scoreboard in nearly-perfect fashion.
Star secure the 'W' against a tough Phoenix team
Star u14A's made the short trip to the Omniplex in Lisburn, and ensured back-to-back wins in the week for themselves, and also back-to-back wins on the day following the superb u12 victory in the game beforehand.
Those who watched may well have seen the best entertainment the Omniplex had on show all weekend, as a good and improving Phoenix side asked serious questions of this still-undefeated team, but yet again the depth of the Star roster became apparent as the game wore on, and Star took the 'W' 48-36.
Star set the tempo right from the tip, with CJ Fulton hitting a streaking Kevin McColgan on a cross-court pass for the easy 2 before Phoenix had even set up their defense.
A tough quarter ensued, and the game stayed tight and tough in the 2nd Quarter too, as both teams tried to gain the upper hand. Both defenses locked in as referee Sean Moyes allowed the teams to play, and scores were of a premium.
Probably for the first time ever, Conor Ryan didn't make it on to the scoresheet in a quarter, but he kept the all-important tempo where this team like it, and it was fantastic to see Conor Cooke, Conn Doherty and Matthew Mulholland step up and fill the gap, connecting on some nifty inside play and fast-breaking to push the scoreline to 20-14 at the turn.
As is so often the case, the 3rd Quarter was when Star started to turn the screw and the team shot out of the blocks to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Having stretched the lead by a further 9 in the 3rd quarter, Star looked to wrap the game up in the 4th.
Keeping a balanced unit on the floor throughout, Star were able to hold off a spirited fight by Phoenix, who had BNI players B. Lynn and J. Bagio shoot the ball well from behind the arc to keep them hanging around. However, Star ran out winners by by 12, 48-36.
For this game, the unsung hero and deserved MVP was Conor Cooke, who quietly went about his business playing excellent on-the-ball and help defense, got his share of the boards, and took his opportunities to both score and assist in the offence as they came to him - a great all-round performance.