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Double provincial success within Armagh hurlers' reach

From 2000 until 2008, Armagh won six Ulster senior football championship titles with hurling scarcely rating a mention.

Yet on Sunday the Orchard county, whose football fortunes have nosedived lately, will seek to land not just one but two provincial club hurling trophies.

Armagh city side Cuchulainns will take on Antrim champions Clooney Gaels in the Intermediate decider at Celtic Park, Derry, while Craobh Rua (Camlough) will also confront Antrim opponents in Creggan Kikchams in the junior final at the Athletic Grounds.

The possibility of a double trophy success in a sport which has at times encountered difficulty in maintaining a foothold within the county has now sparked a mild bout of hurling fever.

Cuchulainns manager Ronan Sheehan believes that the commitment and passion shown by his players to date can now prove crucial against a Clooney Gaels side that boasts the considerable presence of Antrim ace P J O'Connell in their full-forward line.

"The boys have shown a great appetite for the fray lately but we will be up against a higher standard of opposition this time around," reflects Sheehan.

"Like ourselves, Clooney Gaels have grown in confidence but we will certainly not be complacent. This is the biggest game Cuchulainns have had for some time."

Craobh Rua, meanwhile, parade a diverse mix of experience and youth and this combination has seen them defeat Killeavy and Lurgan Sean Treacys to win the Armagh title and, despite being underdogs in both games, progress to the Ulster final by defeating Monaghan Harps and Strabane Shamrocks.

Team manager Patrick Brady, who himself gave many years service to the club as a player, states: "The team is in an Ulster final by merit. They have worked hard and richly deserve their chance to create sporting history. This squad of hurlers owe us nothing, they have defied all expectations. We have put our heads down, stuck together and played as one."

In overcoming Monaghan Harps and Strabane Shamrocks, Craobh Rua hit a total of 5-31 and it's this kind of finishing power which could now take them to the provincial title.

* AFTER Tuesday night's appeal with the Hearings Committee that has cleared Roslea Shamrocks attackers Seamus and Sean Quigley to play in the Ulster club championship against Cavan side Ballinagh, club secretary Colin Rooney has praised the efficiency of the disciplinary structures within the county.

"There are structures there, where any player can appeal a decision by a referee in a game," Rooney said.

"Both our players used the system after a game and they were lucky enough to be successful. We had a case, we brought it to the appeal but I wouldn't like to comment on the details.

"The boys' appeals have been successful. The team are solely focused now on Ballinagh and they're not underestimating them.

"They are county champions, we will be taking nothing for granted and hopefully we can get ourselves over the first hurdle."

Having the two Quigleys on board would be vital to Roslea's hopes of progressing in Ulster. A couple of weekends ago their cause appeared to be insurmountable when both men were dismissed during the league semi-final against St Joseph's, a game they subsequently lost.

However, Peter McGinnity's side will be desperate to make progress in Ulster. Having won three out of the last four Fermanagh Championships, this present generation are yet to win an Ulster club game, but the club have been as far as the Ulster club final back in 1982 when they lost to St Gall's.

Belfast Telegraph


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