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County chiefs study cup kings

A posse of county team managers will take more than a passing interest in tomorrow’s all-Belfast Sigerson Cup derby when Queen’s University and University of Ulster Jordanstown lock horns at The Dub (2.30).

With the National League starting this weekend, county bosses will anxiously monitor both the performances and the fitness levels of their players in both squads in a match which is creating huge interest.

If the form of UUJ in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup has been perhaps slightly more impressive than that of their city rivals, this will count for little in the high intensity Sigerson Cup arena.

The UUJ management duo of Adrian McGuckin and Barney McAleenan will look to captain Darren Hughes and ace finisher Conor McManus, both from Monaghan, to provide the dynamic for victory while Armagh duo Stefan Forker and Jamie Clarke, both accurate score-takers, are keen to replicate their January form.

Hughes and McManus have been superb lately even though the latter is still not fully recovered from the wrist injury that precluded his involvement in the early stages of the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup. He was presented with the Monaghan player of the Year award at the weekend following his outstanding contribution to Seamus McEnaney’s side in the League and Championship last year and McEnaney himself will keep a watching brief tomorrow.

Queen’s manager Cathal O’Rourke was forced to use many of his younger players in the McKenna Cup and sees tomorrow’s assignment as a major task for his side.

“We obviously have had our worries with injuries but the squad are very up for this game. There will be a great atmosphere with a lot at stake,” insists former Armagh ace O’Rourke. Justin Crozier, whose consistency helped to underpin Antrim’s great run last year, will lead the Queen’s side that also includes his Oak Leaf squad colleagues Sean Burke and Declan O’Hagan.

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