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Derry must watch Laois' deadly duo

By John Campbell

Two names have tended to dominate Derry's build-up to their ESB All Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final against Laois at Croke Park on Sunday - and neither are from the Oak Leaf county.

Conor Meredith and Donie Kingston are just two members of the Laois forward line who have contributed enormously to their team's charge into the penultimate stages of the competition and Derry now have the difficult task of curbing their influence.

In the drawn quarter-final against Dublin, Meredith scored 0-6 and Kingston 0-5 of the Laois total of 0-16 to which the Dubs responded with 1-13.

Then in the replay Kingston potted 0-6. And prior to that Meredith grabbed 3-1 of the Laois total of 3-8 against Carlow (1-12) in the Leinster final.

All these statistics certainly provide plenty of food for thought for Derry manager Niall Conway, brother of current senior county team midfield ace James Conway.

But while Derry have taken stock of the formidable resources which Laois will bring to the table, they are not without their own attributes.

Cailean O'Boyle and Chris McKaigue will form a more than useful midfield, James Kielt and Gavin McGeechan are quality forwards and Declan Mullan's opportunism is such that he could again prove a matchwinner, just as he did in the quarter-final against Cork when his late point clinched a 1-8 to 1-7 win for the Oak Leaf side.

It was a superb goal from James Kielt, though, that galvanised Derry in that game.

The Laois half-back line of Ciaran Lillis, Conor Boyle and Zak Tuohy is a particularly strong sector of their side.

While John O'Loughlin and Sean Ramsbottam form a dynamic midfield.

Laois dumped reigning All Ireland champions Roscommon out of the title equation at the quarter-final stage, their 1-13 to 1-11 victory underlining the all-round strengths in their side.

Derry had little difficulty in overcoming Antrim and Monaghan in the Ulster Championship, but were unfortunate in the provincial decider against Tyrone when a 'point' that was clearly a wide was awarded to the Red Hands - thus ensuring their victory by the minimum margin in an enthralling contest.

On Sunday, Derry hope to make a big point by booking their place in the decider against a Galway team who looked very impressive when overcoming Kerry in an absorbing contest last Sunday.


From Belfast Telegraph