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Down rely on family fortunes to win them the final

By John Campbell

Sport in Ulster can often prove to be very much a family affair but the Down camogie team take things to a new level for tomorrow's All-Ireland Premier Junior final against Laois at Croke Park.

No fewer than four sets of sisters are included in their match squad and manager Alistair McGilligan believes that the buoyant team spirit which has marked the build-up to the game will be even more pronounced in the heat of the action against a Laois side that lost to Kildare in last year's decider.

"There is very much a family feel to our side and that helps but we know that Laois are very keen to make up for last year's loss.

"Down have experienced similar setbacks so it's all to play for," maintains the Down boss.

Down will bring considerable experience to the table with the Carr sisters Fionnuala and Sarah Louise and the McGourtys, Catherine and Brid, prominent in this context.

Then there is the versatility of Paula and Karen Gribben and the input of the Savage siblings, Sarah and Aoife, to factor in and it can be seen that Down are well-armed for what Catherine McGourty believes will be a "a difficult test."

The Bangor schoolteacher is convinced, though, that Down's improved form this year will stand them in good stead.

"We have shown a step-up as the year has progressed and this has helped to build our confidence," she maintains.

Niamh Mallon can prove the ace in the Down pack. In a previous meeting between the sides this year she scored 1-9 and can expect to come in for close attention.

Meanwhile, Ballygalget and Portaferry will meet in the Down hurling championship semi-final tomorrow.

Cuchullians and Killygarry will face off in the quarter-finals of the Cavan senior football championship tonight while Kingscourt will face Ramor United and Mullahoran will confront Ballinagh tomorrow.

In the Monaghan championship, Scotstown and Castleblayney do battle. Ballybay and Truagh will also meet.

Belfast Telegraph

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