Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Savage can show the way ahead again for Ballycran

Gary Savage could be regarded as the odd man out in the Ballycran side that will renew their rivalry with Dunloy in Sunday's AIB Ulster Club Championship Hurling semi-final replay at Casement Park, Belfast (3.00pm).

Savage is the only Ballycran player to have garnered previous experience of action at Ulster Club level as it is twelve years since his side were involved at this level.

In last Sunday's drawn encounter, his experience helped to cushion Ballycran against the wiles of a Dunloy attack that at one stage had carved out a four-point lead before being reined in.

"I suppose you could say that both teams thought they might have won the game but in the end a draw was probably a fair result," admits Savage.

His manager Dermot O'Prey will certainly be grateful for Savage's craft and guile this Sunday particularly as Dunloy feel they can step up a gear.

Long-serving skipper Gregory O'Kane and former Antrim ace Colm McGuckin are two of the players they will look to for inspiration while the Richmond brothers Paddy and Liam will be keen to produce a higher ration of scores.

It was midfield ace Conor Woods who fired over the late point in the drawn game that gave Ballycran the right to fight again on Sunday and manager O'Prey believes he can produce another big game in this replay.

"When you look at it, we have fourteen rookies in an Ulster Club context - and Gary Savage," muses O'Prey.

Dunloy have all but shared the Antrim championship title with Cushendall since the start of the 90's - Rossa temporarily broke the dominance these two sides four years ago - but the north Antrim outfit are still desperately keen to grace the AIB All Ireland Club stage again.

"That's where we want to be, of course, but for the moment our total concentration is on Sunday's replay. We cannot afford to let Ballycran dominate the game for long spells. We must take our chances when they come along," says Gregory O'Kane.

And that's a point that Ballycran boss O'Prey, too, will be driving home to his own players.

It promises to be a pre-Hallow'een cracker!

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