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Laverty out to reclaim golden touch

By John Campbell

Conor Laverty is hoping to enhance his scoring ratio when he lines out for Down against Tipperary on Saturday.

The elusive forward failed to hit the target in the Ulster final last Sunday but this can be explained by the fact that he was asked to fulfil a more deep-lying role within the team.

Now Laverty hopes to operate much closer to the opposition posts at Cusack Park, Mullingar where the Mournemen will bid to re-ignite their bid to land the Sam Maguire Cup.

It was in the Ulster semi-final win over Monaghan that Laverty played one of his best-ever games for his county when his clever running, subtle ball control and selfless distribution helped to underpin his side’s dramatic one-point recovery after they had been nine points in arrears at one stage.

Manager James McCartan is hoping that his team can log more scores on Saturday against a Tipperary side that will enter the game in confident mood following victories over Wexford and Antrim.

“The problem against Donegal was that we did not take our chances. We did not fully exploit the openings we created at crucial stages in the game and then when Donegal got a lot of scores at the end it was very disappointing for us,” reflects McCartan.

“The players were understandably devastated after the game but they know they are getting a chance on Saturday to redeem themselves although this will be far from easy.”

Laverty is one of the people to whom he will be turning for better things on Saturday and the Kilcoo dynamo hopes to deliver.

“We were happy to get over Fermanagh and Monaghan but Donegal proved a very big hurdle. We have had to re-focus but we are up for the challenge of facing Tipperary who have gained considerably in confidence since the start of the championship,” maintains Laverty.

Mark Poland and Benny Coulter — the latter was substituted against Donegal before being brought back on again — are other players to whom the Down management will be looking for scores in a game that could prove the team’s passport into the All Ireland quarter-finals.

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Antrim beat Derry 2-20 to 1-12 at the Morgan Athletic Grounds to lift their fourth consecutive Ulster U21 hurling title.

The Saffrons will face the eventual Munster champions — either Tipperary or Clare — in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Antrim scorers: A McKeown (0-1), S McAfee (0-3), M Devlin (0-4), M McKernan (0-2), J Black (0-3, 1f), S Smith (1-2), C McCann (1-4, 1f, 0-1 ‘65’), C Laverty (0-1).

Derry scorers: C Gilmore (0-1), N Ferris (0-2), A Grant (0-3), T McCloskey (0-2), S Farren (1-4, 3f).

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