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Down hurling boss, Gerard Monan, in no rush to see a new final date

By John Campbell

Down hurling boss Gerard Monan admits that he is in "no hurry" to see the Ulster final against Antrim played.

The match had originally been scheduled for this Sunday but because of Down's draw against Derry at the semi-final stage, the replay necessitated that a new date had to be sought for the decider.

The Ulster Council's Competitions Control Committee has already met on this issue and while no formal decision has been made it is not expected that the match will be played before July 28 at the earliest.

And that will certainly afford Monan an opportunity to conduct an audit of his playing resources and manage a recovery mission following nine games in a ten-week period. Indeed, Monan makes no bones about the commitment of his players.

"They have been hard at it since last November," he reveals.

"It's like basketball, the hits cakeep on coming. Fatigue was undoubtedly a factor in our drawn game against Derry on Sunday week last and in fairness to them they should have beaten us on that occasion.

"We were not very happy with how we played but we responded the way we know we can, that's probably why we won the Christy Ring Cup. I think the players showed what they were capable of against Derry."

Antrim manager Kevin Ryan, meanwhile, is hoping that he will have a full strength side for the final. Stephen Beattie missed the recent defeats to Laois and Wexford but could be in the frame for a place while Karl Stewart is also back in the reckoning.

"This gives us a chance to restore some of our credibility and we have to make the most of the chance," says skipper Neil McManus.

The final will be played at Celtic Park, Derry and the fact that the home county is not after all participating could impact on the attendance. But Ulster Council officials remain optimistic that the curtain can yet come down on the competition in style.

Belfast Telegraph


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