Derry take on Down in the quarter-finals of the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship at Casement Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Mourne men will be hot favourites to win this game and book their place in the semi finals of the competition. Down have been in excellent form this season and were unfortunate to lose out to Kerry in the Christy Ring Cup Semi Final last weekend.
They will be anxious to get their campaign back on track this weekend and should have too much firepower for the Oak Leafers. When the sides met in the Christy Ring Derry came away with the win although Down were severely under strength that day. Paul Braniff, Eoin Clarke and Conor Woods are also available again after being ruled out of that clash.
Down were given a fright by a determined Donegal team in the first round with the 3-16 to 1-13 win not as comfortable as it looked. Aidan Clarke got two goals that day and will hoping for a repeat performance today.
Gareth Johnson, who scored 1-6 against Donegal and Branniff have been notching up huge scores all year and if Derry is to have any chance of causing an upset they will need to mark those two very tightly.
Michael Kilpatrick and Alan Grant scored in Derry’s first round 2-13 to 0-06 thrashing of Tyrone, Oisin McCloskey also had a good game that day with four points and Derry will be looking to likes of Kilpatrick and McCloskey if they are to have any chance.
Derry had a mixed campaign in Division 3A of the national league and will need to step up a gear to challenge a Down outfit that held their own in the second tier.
The latter are one of a handful of counties just outside the top ten in the country and will be a difficult side to break down. The first round went with the form book as Down, Derry and Armagh all won and once again you would go with the form book and suggest anything other than a comfortable victory for the Mourne men will be a surprise on Sunday.
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