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McManus poised to call the shots as Cushendall eye a semi-final place

 

Top man: Neil McManus can inspire Cushendall in bid to make last four
Top man: Neil McManus can inspire Cushendall in bid to make last four
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The Antrim Senior Hurling Championship will be stepped up today when Cushendall host Rossa (5.30pm) and St John's meet St Gall's at Corrigan Park (1pm).

The winners of these games will join Dunloy and Loughgiel in an open draw from which the semi-final pairings will emerge.

Cushendall are expected to make it through to the last four because of their forward power with ace marksman Neil McManus certain to pose a huge threat to the Rossa defence.

With support from Ryan McCambridge and with Paddy Burke and David Kearney also helping to underpin the side, McManus can pave the way for another appearance in the final by Cushendall.

Stephen Beatty, Michael Armstrong and Gerard Walsh are players who can set the tone for Rossa's resistance.

St Gall's, meanwhile, have concerns over CJ McGourty, who has been injured recently but may be able to play some part today.

His brother Kieran and the long-serving Karol Stewart can help to prop up the St Gall's challenge against a St John's side that will be backboned by the talented Johnston brothers Ciaran and Conor along with Simon Doherty and Shea Shannon.

The Johnston duo were in fine form for Antrim this year and possess the kind of scoring power that could make life difficult for the St Gall's defence.

In the Down Hurling Championship semi-finals, Liatroim and Ballygalget (5pm) and Portaferry and Ballycran (6.30pm) will cross swords in a double bill at Carryduff.

Reigning champions Ballycran can look to Conor Woods, Stephen Keith and the Nicholson brothers Scott and Brett for inspiration, while Portaferry possess an outstanding marksman in Ronan Blair.

They can also lean on players like Eoghan Sands, Caolan Taggart and Daithi Sands.

Liatroim, meanwhile, have become a stronger force in Mourne hurling but whether they can stifle the challenge of Ballygalget remains to be seen.

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