Antrim play Derry in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup at Celtic Park at 8pm and we have live score commentary from the McKenna Cup match.
Derry kept their qualification hopes firmly alive with their victory at the weekend over UUJ. Antrim suffered a six point defeat to Tyrone. Frank Dawson’s side may be up against it, as it seems to be a talented Derry side who are playing young players such as Conor McAtamney and Ciaran McFaul.
Antrim come in to the match in low spirits after Tyrone beat them by six points on a score line of 2-13 to 1-10 in their Section C clash at the weekend. Although prior to that defeat to what seemed to be a stronger Tyrone side, Antrim had a good win over UUJ. Paddy Cunningham that day was to the fore scoring four points. Last season, they did pull off a famous win over Galway in the qualifiers when looking like a physically strong them however like the game against Tyrone their weaknesses were shown in the following round when losing to Tipperary.
Derry were beaten by a lesser margin by Tyrone on a score line of 1-14 to 0-15. Despite this it has to be noted that manager Brian McIver is sticking to his policy of giving the young players such as Conor McAtamney and Ciaran McFaul game-time to continue their development. The young Derry side still prevailed on Saturday with a strong victory with the score line settling at Derry 1-14 UUJ 0-6. James Kielt starred that day with an impressive five points and set up youngster Ciaran McFaul’s goal. Kielt who was captain of the Derry Minor team which were runners-up in both the Ulster Minor Championship and All-Ireland Minor Championship in 2007 is playing strong football this season for Derry.
Frank Dawson has a strong team for the Mckenna cup but is still without wing back James Loughrey who is unavailable to Antrim for this season.
Antrim McKenna Cup squad: Kevin O’Boyle, James Lavery, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion, John Carron, Michael McCann, Kieran Close, Brendan Herron, John Finucane, Michael Herron, Conor Murray, Paddy Cunningham, Richard Johnson, Martin Johnson, Dermot McCann, Chris Kerr, Kevin Niblock, Michael Pollock, Niall Delargy, Dermot McAleese, Sean Finch, Colm Flemming, Sean McVeigh, Paul Doherty, Liam Carland, Conal Kelly.
Derry Mckenna Cup squad: Thomas Mallon, Carlus McWilliams, Dermot McBride, Brian McCallion, Conor McAtamney , Mark Lynch (capt), Philip Bradley, Bliain Gormley, PJ McCloskey, Enda Lynn, Declan Mullan, Daniel Heavron, Coilin Devlin, Eoin Bradley, James Kielt, Kevin Farren , Ryan Ferris , Ciaran Mullan, Kevin Johnston, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Gerard O’Kane, John McCamley, Ciaran McFaul, Raymond Wilkinson, Lee Kennedy, Ryan Bell
It looks very possible Derry could be missing Declan Mullan again but there is a strong replacement in Ciaran McFaul.
Players to Watch
Antrims Paddy Cunningham who replaced penalty scorer Kevin Niblock scored two points once on the field. Cunningham was captain of the team that made it to the 2009 Ulster Senior Football Championship final. In the previous match Cunningham slotted four points over the bar against UUJ. Cunningham has scored six points for Antrim since making his fresh commitment to the county and looks like the player for the young Derry defenders to watch out for.
Derrys James Kielt is a great man to have on the pitch for frees. Kielt scored five points in their latest encounter with two of them coming from frees. Kielt was also the craftsman behind the young Ciaran Mcfauls well taken goal. Kielt is one of the more experienced players on the Derry side and the Antrim defenders will have to be on their best form to contain the Pádraig Pearse’s Kilrea man.
Derry kept their qualification hopes alive with their victory over UUJ. They look set to take this week’s encounter also over what seems to be a weaker Antrim side.
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