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Hot Saffrons aiming to blaze through in Cup

By Declan Bogue

Antrim will be looking to build on last week's heroics, in delivering a sound trouncing to Meath, when they host Carlow in today's Joe McDonagh Cup tie.

Nigel Elliott rattled home three goals in running up the Saffrons' 5-25 tally and he has been named at wing-forward.

It will be interesting to see if the Antrim management use their sweeper system, with Eoghan Campbell lying in the pocket, as it did not function as they might have wanted as they fell seven points behind after the first 20 minutes.

Once they rectified that, then they were a team transformed.

The Christy Ring Cup gets under way this weekend with Down facing Armagh in an Ulster derby today. In last year's edition, Armagh defeated Down well in Inniskeen, but they have serious issues this season with Paddy Kelly stepping down as manager last month - add to that Cahal Carville's retirement and they look troubled.

Marty Mallon is back as Down manager and after last year he evidently felt an overhaul of the panel was overdue.

Derry are in action against London today, hoping for a better return than in the league group stages when they lost every game. However, that run has to be set in the context that they were without the Slaughtneil hurlers until the relegation play-off against Armagh, which they then won 2-22 to 0-10.

Such improvement is not beyond them with a full deck, and they have Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers available this summer.

There is another Ulster derby in Killyclogher today when Tyrone take on Donegal.

Mattie Lennon's side started the season slowly, but they steadily improved, just missing out on a league final due to the head-to-head rule. However, Donegal have been going well at a level above that.

Monaghan host Longford and, as ever at this level of hurling, it depends on how well Longford have recruited from stronger hurling counties due to the eligibility rule being relaxed.

There is a full programme of games in the Ulster Minor Football Championship with four quarter-finals.

Tyrone are managed by Collie Holmes and began their campaign by thumping Donegal. They face James McCartan's Down side.

Donegal are down to play Monaghan but there are grave concerns about where they are at with this crop, which is unusual.

Armagh, managed by 2002 All-Ireland winner Paul McGrane, face Derry, who already have two mammoth games under their belts, while Fermanagh have Cavan coming to Enniskillen.

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