McKaigue backs youth to continue Ulster's success
TWO of Ulster's venerable foot-soldiers believe that the influx of youthful newcomers into the panel for tomorrow's Railway Cup semi-final against Leinster at Navan epitomises the changing face of football in the province.
Sean Cavanagh and Chrissy McKaigue are accustomed to pocketing Railway Cup medals and while they are among those who will provide an experienced edge to Joe Kernan's match squad, they share the belief that the new kids on the block can help to keep Ulster to the fore in a competition which they have dominated.
Ulster won the inter-pro trophy during the 23-year reign of Brian McEniff and this year they will be bidding to make it a hat-trick of successes under Kernan.
And the senior citizens in his panel believe that Crossmaglen Rangers legend Kernan's bold policy of pitching in youthful talent is set to pay handsome dividends.
It is an indication of Cavanagh's own value to Ulster that he is included once again even though he has only a cameo role with Tyrone against Mayo last Sunday under his belt having just returned following a groin injury.
"Obviously I am glad to be back but what is more important is that we have so many exciting young players in the Ulster set-up now," points out Canavan.
"My Tyrone colleagues Mattie Donnelly and Darren McCurry are among the inside line hot-shots who are currently in great form and there are players just like them from other counties."
"Ulster now has plenty of ammunition up front and I have no doubt if the players get quality possession then can do plenty of damage against Leinster."
McKaigue's Derry colleague James Kielt has been in superb scoring form in his county's colours while Cian Mackey has been the essence of consistency with Cavan.
"Right from the start of the O'Fiaich Cup back at the beginning of December it became clear that new players were going to emerge and now the best of them have been included in this Ulster panel. This will certainly help to bring them on and given them a feel for football at the higher level," states McKaigue.
McKaigue is expected to have a key role tomorrow against a Leinster side that looks certain to be backboned by Dublin, Meath and Kildare players.
Ulster boss Kernan expects that his side will face a torrid test.
"This will be a big examination for our younger players in particular but I am confident that they can step to the mark," says Kernan.