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Slaughtneil hurlers aim to make it six of the best

 

By John Campbell

Slaughtneil aim to prove a six-hit when they meet Banagher in the Derry senior hurling championship final at Owenbeg tomorrow (3.30pm).

Michael McShane's men have taken delivery of the title in each of the last five years and even without the imposing Brendan Rodgers who is injured Slaughtneil will start in pole position.

Slaughtneil's platoon of dual stars includes Chrissy McKaigue, Meehaul McGrath, Cormac O'Doherty and Se McGuigan among others and their acquaintance with success will undoubtedly bolster confidence as they target title number six. Banagher got the better of Lavey in the last four but know they need to up their game if they are to halt Slaughtneil's relentless march.

In Darrell McDermott, Ruairi McCloskey, Niall Farren, Mark Lynch, Brian Og McGilligan, Tiernan McCloskey, Johnathan O'Dwyer and Shane Farren they have players who can be counted on to carry the fight to the champions.

Tomorrow Paul Shiels will again be a key figure in the Dunloy side that will meet Loughgiel in the Antrim championship semi-final at Ballycastle (3.30pm).

While Shiels provides his midfield artistry, all around him are skilful players who will be keen to prove that they can follow in his footsteps. Ryan Elliott, Kevin Molloy, Keelan Molloy, Eoin O'Neill and Conor Cunning are among those who come into this bracket.

But while Dunloy are well-armed for battle, Loughgiel are not short on weaponry despite losing Liam Watson to injury. In James McNaughton they have one of Antrim's outstanding prospects while Odhran McFadden, Eddie McCloskey and Neilly McGarry are other players well capable of discomfiting the champions.

In the other semi-final St John's and Ruairi Og, Cushendall will meet at Dunloy today (4.30).

Cushendall encountered little difficulty in overcoming Sarsfields in their last round robin game and today the vastly experienced Neil McManus is expected to be in the vanguard of their quest for scores.

He will have plenty of support from players such as Paddy Burke, Eoin Campbell, Conor Carson, Ryan McCambridge and Donal McNaughton in a Cushendall side anxious to wrestle the trophy back from Dunloy.

St John's will look to Simon Doherty along with Conor Johnston, Michael Bradley, Ciaran Johnston, Barry McFall and Michael Dudley to help fuel their drive to reach the final.

A number of players from all four teams would be considered suitable material for the Antrim team but the great pty is that the manager's job still remains vacant which means whoever is appointed will only have the final in which to run the rule over players for the 2019 squad.

Meanwhile, Portaferry and Ballycran will meet in the Down senior hurling championship final at Ballygalget tomorrow (3pm).

Ballycran last won the title in 2015 while Portaferry won it the previous year and there is little to choose between the sides.

Conor Woods could wield a big influence for Ballycran, his experience and skill likely to pose problems for Portaferry.

Conor Dorrian, Niall Brown and Stephen Keith are others who might help to bridge Ballycran's three-year title gap.

Portaferry are an amalgam of youth and experience and their new recruits get an opportunity to stand tall today.

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