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Kilcoo have six appeal in Down but eye bigger goal

By John Campbell

Kilcoo have their sights fixed on a sixth successive Down Senior Football Championship title but RGU Downpatrick will offer a formidable barrier to their ambitions in this evening's semi-final at Pairc Esler, Newry (5.15pm).

The versatile Paul Devlin may have stepped away from the Down squad this year but he is particularly keen not only to see Kilcoo extend their reign in the Mourne county but intensify their bid to land what would be a first Ulster club success.

"Obviously Downpatrick will represent a tough obstacle because of the experience and hunger they have so we must be on our toes," states Devlin.

"The fact that we have already won five Down titles guarantees us nothing but we really want to stay on top within the county and maybe push on to gain Ulster honours.

"There is still a great desire within our side and the boys are keen to challenge themselves in trying to get to the next level. But this year's county championship is proving hugely competitive so it will be tough going to keep our title."

Stephen Kane, the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan and the four Branagan brothers along with Darragh O'Hanlon help to provide a strong ration of experience in the Kilcoo line-up with the Turleys, Damian and Peter, along with Gerard Collins set to bolster Downpatrick's challenge.

In the Armagh Championship tonight, Crossmaglen Rangers will have Oisin O'Neill, James Morgan, Michael McNamee and Aaron Kernan on board for their clash with Clan Eireann at the Athletic Grounds (7.45pm) while Ballymacnab will look to Rory Grugan for inspiration against a Madden side that will include midfield ace Niall Grimley in the opening game of an attractive double bill (5.00pm).

Both Grugan and Grimley showed fine form for Armagh this season and they can bring their experience into play tonight with Grimley perhaps proving influential in helping Madden to take another step along the championship route.

A battery of Tyrone aces will also be on view today. Niall Morgan will be between the posts for Edendork when they meet Carrickmore at Pomeroy (1.30pm) while Aidan McRory and Peter Harte will be on duty for Errigal Ciaran against Urney at Loughmacrory (4.30pm).

Justin McMahon, Conor Meyler and Ronan O'Neill will be key figures in the Omagh St Enda's side that will take on Ardboe, also at Loughmacrory (6.00pm).

McMahon called time on his Tyrone career following their defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final but he is still a key figure in an Omagh side that is particularly anxious to reclaim the O'Neill county crown.

Slaughtneil, with Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Cormac O'Doherty, Sé McGuigan, Christopher Bradley and Karl McKaigue to the fore, are still very much on the title trail in Derry and look set to retain their hurling crown at the expense of Banagher in the decider at Celtic Park (4.00pm).

Banagher will parade a number of Derry county players in their line-up and will bring passion and hunger to the table but Slughtneil's experience and the fact that they are keen to retain the Ulster club title - which they won in some style earlier this year - should help to take them to yet another domestic honour.

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