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Enda Downey follows dad's lead in drive for All-Ireland title

By John Campbell

Enda Downey is proving very much a chip off the old block as Derry set their sights on making what would be a huge breakthrough to land the All-Ireland minor football title.

Downey, whose father Seamus, a cultured full-forward, played a key role in helping Derry to win the 1993 All-Ireland senior title, has been instrumental in taking the Oak Leaf outfit into today's All-Ireland quarter-final against Meath at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (3.00).

His scoring exploits, leadership skills and voracious appetite for the ball have marked him down as a significant player in the minor arena since the start of the season.

Derry may have surrendered to Monaghan in the Ulster final, but manager Paddy Campbell believes that with players of the calibre of Eoghan Hawe, Conleth McGucken and Iarlaith Donaghy, as well as the irrepressible Downey, his side are capable of making further progress.

Meath, strong and physical, looked impressive in winning the Leinster Championship in some style, and in Bryan McCormick, Luke Mitchell and David Bell they have players who could conceivably discomfit Derry.

Derry have been the dominant force at minor level in recent years while current senior team boss Damian McErlain was in charge, and under Campbell's astute tutelage the side has maintained its momentum.

Meanwhile, ex-Monaghan senior boss Seamus McEnaney is in charge of a vibrant Farney county minor side that will meet Leinster runners-up Kildare in another quarter-final today at Cusack Park, Mullingar (3.00).

McEnaney's boys surged to the Ulster title by overcoming Derry in the decider, 1-9 to 0-9, having floored their neighbours Cavan in impressive fashion at the semi-final stage, 2-16 to 2-14.

Aaron Mulligan is the player who helps to make the Farney side tick and he could wield a big influence today should he be plied with possession.

Nor are Monaghan a one-trick pony. Donnach Swinburne, Sean Jones, Brendan Og O Dufaigh and Ryan Farrelly are other key players in their team.

Manager McEnaney has instilled a fierce work ethic within his side and Kildare, having found Meath too much too handle, will need to show a marked improvement if they are to take something from today's contest.

Kildare manager Padraig Carbery is certainly hoping his side can atone for their feeble performance when they were outgunned in the Leinster final by a Meath side that could have won more emphatically than the 1-15 to 1-7 final score might indicate.

He will look to skipper Alex Beirne, solid midfield ace Marcus Kiely and inspirational goalkeeper John Ball to galvanise his side this afternoon.

This trio helped to spark their team's provincial championship challenge and their attributes will be required in abundance this time out.

Belfast Telegraph

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