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Antrim pair striving to kick 'Team Ulster' idea into touch

By John Campbell

At the end of a week in which the concept of 'Team Ulster' has been ventilated in a hurling context after the GAA's Director General Paraic Duffy's suggestion in his annual report that this might merit further consideration, two Antrim outfits will bid to provide further compelling evidence that the club really is the heartbeat of the Association.

Clooney Gaels, though, face a massive task tomorrow when they confront Kilkenny side Rower Inistioge in the All-Ireland club intermediate semi-final at Navan, while Kickhams Creggan will view their junior semi-final clash with Warwickshire side Fullen Gaels at Pairc Esler, Newry with some trepidation.

In winning their Antrim and Ulster titles Clooney Gaels, who have their headquarters at Ahoghill, looked impressive, but manager Sean Magee acknowledges that they now face a mammoth test.

"Any day you have to face a Kilkenny side is always going to be a difficult day," concedes Magee,

"But while we did not imagine that we would win the Antrim and Ulster titles, we have done so and this has given us renewed confidence.

"We will certainly be giving it everything against the Kilkenny champions."

In P J O'Connell and Gerard Graham, Clooney Gaels boast two quality forwards while Francis Neeson and Eamon Brady are strong defenders, but it will require a solid overall team effort if they are to make it into the All-Ireland decider.

Meanwhile, Kickhams Creggan are aware that Fullen Gaels will be keen to build on the progress they have made recently when the sides clash.

Kickhams, though, go into this game fortified by their fine display in the Ulster final when they beat Armagh representatives Craobh Rua (0-13 to 1-7).

The Antrim champions will look to Martin Johnston to prove the link between defence and attack while Oran McCann and Conor McCann look equipped to shoulder the responsibility for getting scores.

Fullen Gaels comprise a fusion of youth and experience and have been to the fore at this level in recent years.

Kickhams Creggan, though, might just have the necessary fire-power up front to carry them through to a coveted place in the All-Ireland final.

Belfast Telegraph

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