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Hurling bosses O’Kane and Fawl want their men to show true grit

By John Campbell

Two Ulster hurling bosses venture into different arenas tomorrow striving to view the glass as being half-full rather than half-empty.

While Derry manager James O’Kane is hoping that his team can atone for their recent setback in the Division 3A final against Kerry when they meet Westmeath at Mullingar in the Christy Ring Cup, Tyrone supremo Tony Fawl views his side’s Ulster Championship clash against Cavan at Omagh as an outlet for redemption following a disastrous campaign in Division 3B of the league.

And while O’Kane is without his talisman Liam Hinphey, Galway native Fawl is still minus a fistful of first-choice players through injury for what he sees as “an important game in terms of regaining some credibility”.

Like Derry, Down also find themselves confronted by a difficult hurdle in the Christy Ring Cup in the form of buoyant Kerry, fresh from gaining promotion in the league. Down manager Gerard Monan has been without some of his frontline players recently but is still hopeful that his side can gain some measure of summer comfort after their winter travails.

And just as Tyrone will lean on hope rather than conviction in the Ulster Championship, Donegal will find their limited confidence tested against an Armagh side at Letterkenny that mixed the encouraging with the indifferent during the league.

Niall Campbell hit a rich vein of scoring form for Donegal during the league — indeed, he was virtually their only source of scores —and if he is on fire then the Armagh defence could find itself under pressure. The orchard county though, with Ryan Gaffney a key player, have had the benefit of playing against teams like Meath, Kerry and Derry already this year and that should stand them in good stead for today’s mission.

Monaghan, meanwhile, certainly emphasised their progress by winning five games on the bounce in Division Four and this will thrust them into pole position for tomorrow’s Ulster Championship tie against Fermanagh.

Belfast Telegraph


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