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Ulster Championship: We need to step it up against Derry, says Dyas

By John Campbell

When Kevin Dyas turned his back on Australian Rules Football after a two-year spell, he planned to resume club activity with Dromintee in the Armagh All County League.

At that point in time he did not quite envisage finding himself in the frame for Ulster Championship honours.

On Sunday, though, the 23-year-old Dyas will find himself a key cog in the Armagh defence that will bid to shackle a lively Derry attack in the hope of making it through to the provincial final against either Tyrone or Donegal.

Dyas found himself positioned in the rather unaccustomed role of left-full-back for Armagh’s championship opener against Down last month, and after whisking over a sixth minute point he went on to impose his stamp on the proceedings by helping to largely nullify the threat posed by the Mourne forward division.

But while Dyas (pictured) shared in the elation of Armagh’s unexpected victory, he is in no doubt that Derry will provide a huge test in Clones on Sunday.

And he acknowledges that the orchard county will have to step up further on their display against Down if they are to heap more championship agony on the Oak Leaf side.

Competition for places in the Armagh side has intensified but Dyas believes that this will prove a timely bonus.

“This is helping to keep everyone on their toes. There is certainly no element of complacency — the fight for places is very healthy and this is always a good thing. It’s never a good thing that players should be able to walk onto a team,” insists Dyas.

While Armagh’s defensive resources have been the envy of many sides in the recent past, Dyas confirms that a greater emphasis on their attacking strategy of late is beginning to pay handsome dividends.

“Maybe in the National League we did not get as many scores as we would have liked but that’s a team thing, it’s not just the responsibility of the inside men. Our full-forward line and half-forward line are coming back nearly all the time to help out our defence so it is up to us and to our midfield players to get up and help them when we are in possession,” points out Dyas.

Armagh still boast some of the most experienced defenders in the country in Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy, Aaron Kernan and Ciaran McKeever but Dyas believes the rearguard as a whole will need to hit peak form to subdue a Derry challenge that will be spearheaded by Eoin Bradley, Conleith Gilligan, Enda Muldoon and Mark Lynch.

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