Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ulster's Croker showdown deserves support for two reasons

When Ulster defeated Munster in last year's inter-provincial football championship final there were 3,000 fans present at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

Ulster are once more in the decider and this time they will face Leinster at Croke Park on Sunday.

It is my fervent hope that there will be a much bigger crowd this time round for two reasons.

The teams deserve the wholehearted support of fans and the proceeds from the match will be going to the Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin – a very worthy cause indeed.

It was most disappointing that only 1,600 people paid through the turnstiles to watch Ulster beat Munster in last Sunday's semi-final.

After a tepid start, this evolved into a titanic tussle with Munster staging a dramatic comeback after the break.

Ulster held out to win by a point and we know that we will have to step up to the next level if we are to overcome Pat Gilroy's Leinster side.

Sean Cavanagh, Ciaran McKeever, Darren Hughes, Conor McManus and Joe McMahon are big players in this Ulster side and I know that they will show leadership on Sunday.

Bernard Brogan, Dessie Dolan, Stephen Cluxton and Michael Darragh Macauley will be leading the charge for Leinster in a cracking contest.

• CROSSMAGLEN Rangers have been denied the chance to make it a hat-trick of All-Ireland title triumphs but while there was an overwhelming sense of disappointment following Saturday's semi-final against St Brigid's, the club is not consumed by grief.

We can look back on many happy memories since 1996 and the team will be back in the hunt for honours next year.

When Pearse Og beat Rangers at the quarter-final stage three years ago, the cynics assured us this marked the end of the team's dominance.

But their answer to this was to go on and win three more Armagh titles, three Ulster crowns and two All-Ireland titles. Surely no more emphatic response has been offered at any level within the GAA.

I imagine that the vast majority of the current squad will be back in action next year and I already sense that there is a determination among the players to prove that last Saturday's result was nothing more than a temporary blip.

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