Derry and Antrim renew rivalries in the Bord Gáis Energy Ulster Hurling U-21 Final in the Morgan Athletic Grounds tonight.
These two counties have met each other nine times in the Ulster Final with Antrim coming out on top on six of those occasions. This is Derry’s first provincial final since 2009 which incidentally was against Antrim and the last time they lifted the Ulster title was eight years ago in 2004.
Derry will once again look to Shane Farren to lead the line. Farren scored 2-7 in their Semi-Final win over Down, with five of his points coming from frees, so Antrim will be wary of his threat from both open play and from dead ball positions. Alan Grant will be another player in the forward line to watch, as his two points and general play in the Semi-Final will testify to.
This will be Antrim’s sixth Ulster Final in a row and another win tonight will continue their dominance of Ulster hurling at U-21 level which has seen them win 11 provincial titles in the past 15 years.
Antrim will once again look for inspiration from Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador and captain Conor McCann following his haul of a goal and two points in their Semi-Final win over Armagh. One interesting stat from that win is there were eight different players on the score sheet. This Antrim side can strike from anywhere, which will be of concern for Derry manager Ger Rogan as he looks to curtail a formidable attack which also includes Nigel Devlin, Aidan McKeown and James Black.
In team news Derry make three changes from the team that lined out against Down, Michael Warnock, Niall Ferris and Chris Convey come into the side.
For Antrim, Johnny McIntosh is forced into one change as Conor Laverty replaces Nigel Elliott who is away. James Black retains his position at wing forward as Donal McKinley still hasn’t recovered from injury.
Derry: O.O’Doherty, M.Warnock, C.McGurk, C.McIntyre, C. Convery, K. McKaigue, E. Cassidy, C. Gilmore, D. O’Neill, N.Ferris, A.Grant, S.McGuigan, T.McCloskey, S.Farren, C.O’Kane
Antrim: J.O’Mullan, C.Murray, R. Gillan, F.Donnelly, J.McCouaig, M.Donnelly, J.McShane, S.McAfee, A.McKeown, J.Black, K.McKernan, N.Devlin, C.Laverty, C.McCann, S.Smith