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Downey factor can help Derry get off to a flyer

 

Big test: Derry boss Paddy Campbell is wary of Armagh
Big test: Derry boss Paddy Campbell is wary of Armagh
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Derry manager Paddy Campbell feels his team will be at "a big disadvantage" when they confront Armagh in the Ulster Minor Football Championship at the Athletic Grounds tomorrow (6.00pm).

Campbell believes that the hosts will be in a position to maximise their home comforts, yet Derry have an imposing record at minor level spanning recent years.

"I think Armagh, while they might have been quiet during the recent minor league, will have players coming back and they will be stronger," insists Campbell.

"I know they played Dublin in a challenge match recently and ran them very close. They are going to be a big test for us especially with us having to travel to face them."

But Campbell's views are certainly not likely to inculcate the slightest complacency within the Armagh side and that's because the north west outfit includes three members of the famous Downey sporting clan.

Enda and Calum are sons of Seamus Downey, who played at full-forward for Derry when they won their only All-Ireland title to date in 1993, while Matthew is a son of Henry, who skippered that side into the history books.

Armagh manager Ciaran McKeever needs no reminding of Derry's credentials at minor level of late and promises that his team will be on their toes.

"Derry football at under-age level generally is further down the line than us here in Armagh," states McKeever.

"They have done a lot of work at Academy level over the past few years and they are going to present a big challenge for us.

"They have good pedigree in their side, of course. When you see names like Diamond, McGurk and Downey in there you know that you are going to be up against quality.

"They have players in their side who are coming from very strong GAA backgrounds and we know they will be keen to follow in their fathers' footsteps."

Meanwhile, seven Ulster whistlers are included on the list of referees drawn up for the forthcoming All-Ireland Football Championship.

Ciaran Branagan (Down), Barry Cassidy (Derry), Niall Cullen (Fermanagh), Sean Hurson (Tyrone), Martin McNally (Monaghan), Joe McQuillan (Cavan) and Noel Mooney (Cavan) are those who make the cut, but Padraig Hughes (Armagh) has been omitted along with Cormac Reilly (Meath).

But while Ulster names dominate the football referees panel, there is only one representative from the province on the list for the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.

Antrim's Colm Cunning joins the elite whistlers who will take charge of the Liam McCarthy and Joe McDonagh Cup competitions, while an additional panel of 14 referees will officiate at Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher ties.

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