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Derry have grounds for optimism, insists Campbell

 

By John Campbell

Derry minor football team manager Paddy Campbell believes that his side's familiarity with the Athletic Grounds, Armagh will stand them in good stead when they face Leinster champions Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-finals there on Saturday (3.00pm).

For the Oak Leaf side, this will be their fourth visit to the venue this year, although their last trip ended in disappointment when they lost to Monaghan in the Ulster Championship final.

Nonetheless, Campbell believes his side can make a big point against a Meath outfit that certainly claimed the Leinster title in some style.

They overcame Laois by a hefty margin at the semi-final stage before seeing off Kildare in the decider, 1-15 to 1-7.

Meath's size and power could prove key weapons against the north west side as they can physically impose themselves on opponents.

While they have acquired a level of cohesion and fluidity that would do justice to a senior side, the Royal County are also very vigilant in the execution of their defensive duties.

In Bryan McCormack, Luke Mitchell, Darragh Swaine and David Bell, they have players who are capable of setting the tone for the team's overall performance against a Derry side that is backboned by a number of outstanding colleges players.

Enda Downey, Conleth McGuckin, Eunan McElhennon, Iarlaith Donaghy, Eoghan Hawe and Ethan Doherty form the nucleus of a team that never knows when it's beaten.

"We may have lost out to Monaghan in the Ulster final but the boys gave the match everything. If they do the same again on Saturday then we won't be far away, we feel," points out manager Campbell.

Eoghan Hawe's penchant for pirating goals, Shea Downey's polished finishing from all angles and distances and Eunan McElhennon's work-rate can inspire the side who have reached the concluding stages of the All-Ireland series in recent years without quite managing to get over the line.

Meanwhile, in another quarter-final tie, Ulster champions Monaghan face a stiff test against a fired-up Kildare side at Cusack Park, Mullingar on Saturday (3.00pm).

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney is certainly under no illusions about the task that confronts his side.

"Kildare are a very good side and they will be very keen to show their true worth in the All-Ireland series," points out McEnaney.

"They have proved in their matches to date that they possess skill and fighting qualities, and they will certainly be going into Saturday's game believing they can beat us, that's for sure."

Monaghan, though, have benefitted from tough games in the Ulster Championship, particularly the final against Derry, and will be on their guard for Saturday's mission.

Kerry will face Roscommon at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick where the Munster side will start favourites to reach the last four.

They may not have things all their own way as the Roscommon side includes a number of players who have already made something of an impact at schools level. As well as that, Roscommon showed cohesion and drive in coming through the Connacht Championship.

Belfast Telegraph

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