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Armagh hurlers' final frontier

Armagh hurlers haven’t appeared in an Ulster Under 21 final for over three decades.

But they can put that right this evening in Casement Park when they cross swords with high flying Antrim.

The resurgence of Armagh hurling has been one of the highlights of 2010 and assistant manager Paul Kelly is quick to acknowledge the massive contribution of Mattie Lennon.

“The origins of our resurgence date back five or six years when Mattie Lennon took over the reins.

“He was responsible for putting in place some very solid foundations.

“I would like to think we have moved that level of success to a different level and that is a tribute to the dedication and hard work of coaches the length and breadth of the county.

“We have to work especially hard if we’re to get to the same level as the footballers,” said Kelly.

Antrim dispatched Down in the semi-final with some ease and will start as raging hot favourites to lift the trophy and qualify for an All Ireland semi-final place.

Like Armagh they too are working hard to raise standards right across the board and the hope is that the improved fortunes of the senior side will rub off on them.

For their part the Orchard County lads must start well and be vigilant for the concession of early goals would spell the end of their championship aspirations.

Kelly added: “Success in the Nickey Rackard Cup was always the focal point of our year and the aim was always that sooner rather than later we would be able to compete on level terms with the Antrim and Downs of this world.

“It’s going to be a huge night for us — win, lose or draw, we’re determined to make the most of it.”

Belfast Telegraph

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