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Portaferry fixed on rewriting history by making All-Ireland final

By Declan Bogue

Portaferry manager Sean Young has said that although his Ulster hurling champions will have to travel over 350km to their All-Ireland semi-final, it will not deter skipper John Convery and his team-mates' attempt to be the first Down club to reach a decider.

The Ardsmen meet Limerick's Kilmallock at Semple Stadium, Thurles on February 7, with a 2pm throw-in. It is the curtain-raiser in a double header with Henry Shefflin's Ballyhale Shamrocks taking on Gort from Galway.

"It won't affect the logistics of the game," insists Young.

"We were always going to leave on the Friday evening. We might have considered travelling down the day of the match but for anything further than Dublin it was always going to be an overnight stop for the team.

"If anyone had said to us this time last year that our biggest worry in a year would be the venue of the All-Ireland club semi-final, I would have laughed at them!"

And Young also revealed that Portaferry will be in Thurles next weekend, fine-tuning their preparations.

"We have a training weekend away. We went ahead and are going to travel on down to Thurles and have a training session there. That will sample a bit of Semple for them and take that edge off them, so that they are not going out on matchday focused on the size of the pitch or the scenery."

Preparations have been going smoothly since they beat Cushendall and won their first Ulster title, according to Young.

"After we won the Ulster final we had our last Antrim league match to play. We played it and gave the players a week and a half off.

"We figured out an eight-week plan and Christmas Day and New Year's Day are the only two days they have taken off and they're the only days they wanted."

Ulster football champions, Robert Emmetts of Slaughtneil, have succeeded in their request to delay the All-Ireland semi-final against Kieran Donaghy's Austin Stacks of Kerry until Sunday, February 15, at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise.

The club have a number of players involved in a family wedding on Saturday, February 14 and have been granted their wish. The other semi-final will be held on the Saturday between reigning All-Ireland champions St Vincent's, who meet Corofin of Galway at O'Connor Park, Tullamore.

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