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McGurk calls on Derry U21s to net All-Ireland final spot

By John Campbell

It has not been all sunshine for hurling in Derry of late, but today the county's Under-21 side can provide a substantial fillip when they meet Meath in the All-Ireland B Championship semi-final (Ritchie McElligott Cup) at Trim (5pm).

Collie McGurk's side showed in overcoming Mayo in last weekend's quarter-final (3-15 to 0-18) that they possess pace and scoring power, and these twin attributes will certainly be needed against a Meath side that has been impressive to date.

"The three goals we scored against Mayo proved crucial in taking us into this semi-final and obviously we would like to reach the decider," stated McGurk. "We have a lot of talented players and they have been working well together. But we know that Meath will form a tough hurdle."

Derry aim to hit the ground running, especially as their opponents have acquired a reputation for lasting the distance in games and goals could again prove crucial.

Corey O'Reilly, Richie Mullan and Liam Cassidy are the players who can help fire up the Oak Leaf side.

O'Reilly in particular has been on fire recently and his penchant for snapping up goals has stood the side in good stead to date.

Meath sprinted to a comfortable 1-22 to 0-8 win over Connacht representatives Roscommon in their quarter-final.

They possess accurate forwards in Brian Dowling, Peter Slevin, Jarlath Ennis and Conor Fitzpatrick, with manager Brian Gilsenan confident his side can build on their display against the Rossies.

"The lads are showing a terrific attitude, and their commitment can stand to them against what we feel is a very good Derry team," insisted Gilsenan.

"They have been applying themselves well and now they are getting the chance to book their place in an All-Ireland final which does not come round too often.

"Obviously it's a tough challenge but it's nice to be playing Championship hurling at this time of the year."

Sligo, who beat Donegal in the last of the quarter-finals on Tuesday night, will meet Kerry in the other semi-final.

Sligo were surprisingly enterprising against a Donegal side that included a number of players who have already acquired a considerable level of experience at senior level.

Indeed, Donegal had been hopeful of making the last four in the All-Ireland race but Sligo turned in a power-packed performance in the third quarter to build up an unassailable 0-16 to 1-6 lead after the teams had been tied at the halfway stage.

Sligo kept their grip on the game to win by 1-18 to 1-8 and will now be tested by a Kerry side that contains a number of players who have come to the fore recently.

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