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Trio so close they can almost taste Croke Park glory

By John Campbell

Antrim may have already shot their bolt in the Leinster Championship but all is not lost on the Ulster hurling front.

On Saturday, no fewer than three counties will be represented in Croke Park finals which seem certain to provide evidence that the sport here still enjoys reasonable health.

Nor will our provincial representatives be fulfilling the dubious brief of making up the numbers at Headquarters.

Derry undoubtedly face a demanding challenge against Kerry in the Christy Ring Cup decider which will confirm who is the best side immediately outside the sport's top tier.

And Armagh are aware that Roscommon will examine their credentials closely in the Nicky Rackard Cup final, while Fermanagh will attempt to avenge last week's setback against Sligo when the counties go head-to-head in the Lory Meagher Cup final.

In reaching their respective finals, all three Ulster teams have offered proof that Ulster hurling is not quite in need of a kiss of life.

Derry manager Tom McLean certainly lays it on the line.

"We know we are facing a side which has been knocking at the door of the top tier and which has chalked up some impressive results. But we will focus on our strengths and will give it everything," insisted McLean.

Armagh skipper John Corvan is no less resolute.

"This is where we want to be. Playing in a final in Croke Park is what you dream about and now that it has become a reality for us, we aim to give it everything," stated Corvan.

And Fermanagh county board spokesman Pauric McGurn said: "Since the death of our popular defender Shane Mulholland in April, the players have wanted to win the Lory Meagher Cup and then dedicate it to his memory."

Belfast Telegraph

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