Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Making history is carrot for Convery

Ulster club hurling semi-finals

Two of Ulster hurlings hottest properties are set for what promises to be a fascinating shoot-out on Sunday at Casement Park.

Ruairi Convery’s sustained accuracy from play and frees has been the mainstay of Swatragh’s drive to make it into the Ulster Club Championship semi-finals for the first time.

And Paul Braniff has once again been the ace in the Portaferry pack as the Down title-holders have shown their appetite for even more honours.

Both team’s ability to put points on the board central to their respective teams’ hopes of advancing to a final meeting against either All-Ireland club champions Loughgiel Shamrocks or Armagh title holders Middletown.

Swatragh’s accession to the Derry hurling throne is as welcome as it is unexpected — the team have been accustomed to fulfiling the role of bridesmaid in the county’s hurling aristocracy.

In overcoming Banagher in the final, Swatragh showed that they are made of the right stuff and they served notice that they have much more left in the tank.

Convery, also an accomplished footballer, accepts that Portaferry offer the biggest challenge they will ever have faced.

“Portaferry have won Down titles before and played in the Ulster Championship whereas we haven’t, but while this is a big challenge for us, we are ready for it,” he said.

“There is a great hunger within our squad to prove ourselves on the Ulster stage – we see that as one of the perks of having won the Derry title.”

Swatragh are no one-man show, either. Conor Quinn, Michael Kirkpatrick, Chris Convery and Cathal McQuillan are among players who will not look out of their depth against Portaferry, for whom Braniff I such a key player.

The outcome of the duel between Convery and Braniff will almost certainly decide just which team goes forward to the Ulster final.

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