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Showdown between hot rivals is a real family affair

By John Campbell

No fewer than six sets of brothers will have more than a passing interest in proceedings when Derry host Tyrone in the Ulster Championship quarter-final at Celtic Park tomorrow.

Karl and Chrissy McKaigue, Daniel and Shane Heavron and Sean Leo and Liam McGoldrick provide a marked family flavour within the Oak Leaf squad while there is a similar pronounced influence of siblings in the Tyrone panel.

The Cavanaghs, Sean and Colm, along with the Donnellys, Ritchie and Mattie, and the McCann duo Tiernan and Conall help to backbone an overall line-up that carry the mantle of favourites into the competition.

The family factor has indeed proven something of a spur. Shane Heavron admits brother Daniel is "currently the better player" but confirms that he is "catching up on him" while Ritchie Donnelly has been stealing some of the more experienced Mattie's thunder of late.

Indeed, tomorrow's game could have special significance for the younger Donnelly.

When Tyrone beat Derry in the group stages of the Dr McKenna Cup, Ritchie won the man of the match award and when the sides renewed their rivalry in the league in March he repeated the feat. The possibility of a hat-trick now beckons.

The versatility of the various sets of brothers has been underlined, too, perhaps most forcibly by the Cavanaghs.

Alongside his more decorated brother, Colm helped to form a very durable midfield partnership for Tyrone spanning several seasons but now he finds himself as sweeper with Sean the apex of a lively attack.

And while Tiernan McCann has emerged as one of Tyrone's most accomplished players, brother Conall is anxious to take a leaf from his book.

Meanwhile, Derry skipper Chrissy McKaigue and brother Karl underpin the defence at a time when members of different families try to emulate the achievements of each other thus adding considerably to the intensity of training and matches.

Belfast Telegraph


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