Ulster Under 20 Hurling Final
Antrim v Derry at Owenbeg – Throw in 3pm
The Antrim team to play Derry in Saturday’s Ulster Under 20 Hurling Championship final at Owenbeg shows three changes from the team that started against Down in their final round robin game two weeks ago. Conor Boyle, Christy McGarry and Ryan Mort come into the starting fifteen in place of Luke O’Connor, Jack McCloskey and Seanie McIntosh. Mort came on for O’Connor in the final quarter of the Down game and has done enough to impress the selectors but there is no starting place for any of the other four subs that day, Dairmuid Rogan, Darragh Kelly, Ronan McCollum or Cormac McKeown, who scored four points from play that day.
The win over Down was a hard fought victory with the heroics of goalkeeper Eamon Richmond going a long way towards getting the Saffrons over the line, as indeed was the first round game against Saturday’s opponents Derry, when the sides met at Dunsilly four weeks ago. The night the Oak Leaf outfit pushed Antrim all the way, and only got home with two late points, after Derry captain James Friel had missed the chance of levelling the game going into injury time.
It is clear that there is really nothing between the three main teams in Ulster, with Derry just getting over line with two late injury time points last Saturday, Friel’s brilliance from long range frees just giving them the edge at the end of a really tough contest.
It is highly likely that Saturday’s final will be as close as any of the games to date. Both teams will know that they are both capable of clinching the title, and gaining entry into the Leinster A competition, but both will be equally aware that both sides are very evenly matched. Derry will have home advantage, which could prove vital, and it Antrim are to beat them then they will have to be at their best. Their shooting let them down against both Saturday’s opponents and Down and they will need to be more economical to through. The one thing that might be in the Saffrons favour is the quality of their bench and that could prove a decisive factor in the end.