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Hazzard will be on his guard again for Minor showdown

 

By John Campbell

Down goalkeeper Jack Hazzard certainly earned his keep in the Ulster Minor Football Championship quarter-final against Armagh when he saved an injury-time penalty from Tiarnan Kelly that saw his side edge to a 2-13 to 2-11 win.

This afternoon Hazzard will need to be on his toes again when he confronts a lively Cavan attack in an Athletic Grounds semi-final (5pm) that is laced with intrigue.

In beating Monaghan, Cavan sent out the message that they have the title very much in their sights although Down boss James McCartan has taken considerable heart from his team's win over Armagh.

"Obviously we have a lot to thank Jack Hazzard for, but in the final analysis it's a team game and we will be looking for a big collective effort today," states McCartan.

While Cavan undoubtedly possess considerable skill up front in players such as Cian Madden, Oisin Pierson and Patrick Lynch, Down will bring their own hot-shots to the fore in Conor McCrickard and Liam Kerr.

The pair were on fire in accumulating 2-12 between them against Armagh and could thrive again today.

Cavan manager John Brady acknowledges that his team will face a far bigger test this time out.

"I believe Down will have gained in confidence and spirit. They will be a major hurdle for us," he says.

Meanwhile, there is a particularly strong Ulster involvement in the Celtic Challenge hurling finals which will take place at Netwatch Dr Cullen Park, Carlow today. Antrim will face North Cork (4.pm) in the Corn John Scott final while Down will meet Dublin Plunkett in the Division Three William Robinson decider (2.20pm).

The Division Five Corn Michael Feery final sees Armagh confront Roscommon (12.40) while the Division Six Corn Tom Hogan final takes place at Garvaghey between Tyrone and Fermanagh (12noon).

This year's John West Féile Peil na nÓg continues today and tomorrow in Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. The competition is a major club festival for gaelic football and ladies gaelic football at Under-14 level, involving teams from all over the country.

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