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Manager Ryan urges Ulster to stay focused in Galway

By John Campbell

Ulster team manager Kevin Ryan has warned his side to be on their guard from the outset when they confront Connacht in tomorrow's Inter-Provincial Hurling Championship semi-final at Pearse Stadium, Salthill (12.30pm).

Ryan believes that Connacht will be keen to "make a statement" following the drawn-out controversy that accompanied the departure of Galway boss Anthony Cunningham.

Ryan stressed: "This has been a very dominant issue of late but now Connacht will have the chance to make a positive point on the field of play.

"They could come out against us with all guns blazing so we have to be ready. They will want to make a statement."

Ryan's views are endorsed by his experienced defender Conor McKinley, who suggests that Ulster will face a stiff test.

"Connacht manager Justin Campbell is in the frame to become the new boss of Galway so he will be keen to bolster his chances," said 26-year-old McKinley.

"It's going to be a very difficult match for us away from home. But I think we have a decent mix of skill and commitment and we will give it everything. It's a big honour to pull on the provincial jersey."

Manager Ryan has introduced players from Donegal, Armagh and Tyrone to his squad and feels they won't be out of place should they get game-time.

Certainly Tyrone's Damien Casey, who has been in magnificent form this season, and Armagh's Conor Corvan have impressed Ryan in the build-up.

Ryan admits that the loss of the Cushendall players who are preparing for the forthcoming All-Ireland club series is a blow.

He added: "In the past, Ulster has been largely represented by Antrim players but there is a greater spread of talent now. There is no better stage for these players to do their stuff and hopefully the team will rise to the occasion."

The Munster v Leinster semi-final is after the Ulster match and the final is scheduled for Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph


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