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Derry are still clinging to hopes of a silver lining

By John Campbell

Published 27/06/2015

Derry's Ruairi Convery in action
Derry's Ruairi Convery in action

Derry hurling boss Tom McLean was bitterly disappointed when his side failed to capture the Christy Ring Cup after losing to Kerry in the final.

Since then he has harboured a desire to see his side finish their 2015 itinerary with some form of silverware and the Ulster Championship offers his players the last prospect of doing so.

Today they meet Down in the semi-final of the provincial competition knowing that their opponents, too, are anxious to make a telling statement having themselves lost ground lately.

Indeed, Down will travel to Owenbeg hoping to avenge the 0-23 to 2-12 defeat they suffered to the Oak Leaf side in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final.

On that occasion, Paul Cleary, Alan Grant, Ruairi Convery and Paddy Henry between them scored 21 of Derry's points while Gareth 'Magic' Johnson and James Coyle netted Down's goals.

Derry's polished finishing has been a feature of their play this year but at the same time their defence has looked vulnerable.

Manager McLean is hoping that his rearguard will be much more frugal today although restricting the scoring influence of players like Johnson, Daniel Toner and Stephen Dineen will not be a straightforward task.

Conor Woods remains superbly consistent as a central defensive pillar for Down while Michael Ennis and James Coyle bring their own particular talents to the table.

Not surprisingly, both Derry and Down are keen to see Antrim's reign as Ulster champions ended.

The Saffrons have already been granted their now traditional place in the final and will be favourites to retain the title.

Belfast Telegraph

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