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Oak Leaf brothers in arms ready for Dubs test

By John Campbell

Three sets of siblings in Derry's hurling semi

It will be very much a case of families united when Derry face Dublin in tonight's All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship semi-final at Pairc Esler Newry (6.00pm).

The Oak Leaf side contains three sets of brothers - Ruairi and Oisin McCloskey (Banagher), Conor and Cormac McKenna (Slaughtneil) and Sam and Ben Dodds (Lavey).

Ruairi McCluskey captains the side from full-back while the McKennas will fill the two wing-back positions.

Derry, who beat Antrim in the recent Ulster final, have landed the provincial honour on only three occasions the first being in 1986 when Henry Downey was the captain and he also scored twelve points in their win over Antrim.

But Wexford proved Derry's masters in the subsequent All Ireland semi-final winning by 5-14 to 2-13.

Ironically, Derry also won the U21 provincial honour in 1993, the same year that Downey led the side to All Ireland football glory for the first and only time in the county's history.

Tonight Derry face a Dublin side who pack a considerable punch up front in the shape of Alan Crabbe and Ross O'Carroll.

This duo are certain to keep the Oak Leaf defenders on their toes.

Dubs' boss Sean Lane, who hails from Tipperray, has espoused a policy of all-out attack and Derry can expect an early barrage from a side anxious to provide evidence that hurling in the county is on the up and up.

Derry manager Brian McGilligan, conscious that Dublin have set out their stall in relation to landing the title, has made it clear that defence will be the best form of defence from his own team's perspective.

Meanwhile, GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell has praised the quality of Croke Park's surface and all those responsible for making it capable of hosting the current raft of top matches in such a short period of time.

"The Gaelic Players Association would like to compliment Croke Park and its ground staff on the success of the past two weekends at GAA headquarters," Farrell declared.

"Hosting such a hectic schedule of games over consecutive days is an outstanding achievement.

"Despite criticism of the playing surface in the past, feedback from our members this season has been extremely positive and we acknowledge the efforts of everyone involved in improving the pitch."


From Belfast Telegraph