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The Irish News: Nov 14 1997: Antrim GAA boss Ray McDonnell makes sweeping changes in search of first National League win

Antrim's Gearoid Adams 

ANTRIM manager Ray McDonnell has made sweeping changes as his side go in search of their first win of the National League against last year's All-Ireland champions Meath tomorrow. McDonnell has dropped five players from the side which lost to Longford at Casement Park a fortnight ago in an attempt to find a winning Saffron formula.

Locky McCurdy, Ciaran Browne, Ronan Hamill, Emmet McCorry and Gerard McCrarren all lose out for the trip to Navan, while St Paul's Donal McManus comes in to make his senior county debut at left cornerforward.

Gearoid Adams moves from the half-forward line into a full-back line which has been totally revamped.

Adams, Ciaran O'Neill, who moves to fullback from centre-half-back, and Dermot McPeake make up the back division.

McPeake enters the fray for Andy McGowan who was sent off against Louth. Anto Finnegan moves from the forwards to the half-back-line alongside Terry McCrudden who moves from right-wing-back to his club position at number six.

Antrim: D Shannon, G Adams, C O'Neill, D McPeake, P McCann, T McCrudden, A Finnegan, J Murphy, J Quinn, J Wilson, D Swail, J McManus, M Boyle, K Madden, D McManus

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DERRY’S Eugene O’Kane grabbed the Ulster intermediate title in the dying seconds of a cracking bantamweight battle in the Dock Workers Club Belfast last night.

Locked at 13 apiece with 17-year-old Antrim champion Hugh Brady in the fourth and final round, O’Kane blasted home two pile-driving right hands to seal a late, late victory.

Brady bounced back to narrow the gap to just a single point as the final bell rang out but the title by then belonged to Derry’s former Ulster youth champion – by a whisker.

All Blacks featherweight Martin Kayes was in danger of crashing out of the TR Fastenings-sponsored championship in the first minute against Barry Waite.

Referee Bobbie Spiers kept a close watching brief as Waite hooked to body and head and he dished out a standing count as Kayes covered up.

The All Blacks lad rallied but Waite couldn’t be sidetracked off the winning trail.

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NOEL Donnelly will return to the Tyrone team for the first time in this season’s National League campaign on Sunday for the game against Ulster champions Cavan at Breffni Park.

The return of the Drumquin man is one of two changes made by manager Danny Ball as his unbeaten charges seek to collect another two points in Section C.

Sean Corr is preferred to Fergal Logan as a partner for Jody Gormley in midfield after an impressive performance as substitute in the victory over Sligo two weeks ago.

Adrian Cush, who missed the last game through work commitments, returns but has to be content with a place on the bench as Ball sticks with the same attack. 

Tyrone will be anxious to gain revenge over Cavan whose two victories over them last year cost them their place in the old division one.

Tyrone: F McConnell, P Devlin, N Donnelly, F Devlin, S McLaughlin, C Holmes, C Lawn, S Corr, J Gormley, S Lawn, B Eccles, C Loughran, B McGuckin, C McBride, D Gormley

Subs: S McCarron, F Logan, A Cush, P Campbell, T McKenna, P McLaughlin, G Hughes.

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Jordanstown student Ciaran Higgins will make his senior county debut for Derry against London on Sunday.

The diminutive Magherafelt forward replaces Michael Gribben in an attack which is totally revamped.

Gary McGill moves from right-halfforward to the ‘40’ and is flanked in an experimental half-forward line by Gavin Diamond and Ronan Rocks.

Diamond came on as a substitute in Ballybofey against Donegal while Rocks switches from full-forward slot to left-half-forward.

Derry: D Hopkins, AN Other, N Farren, K Diamond, P Diamond, H Downey, G Coleman, A Tohill, J McBride, G Diamond, G McGill, R Rocks, C Higgins, B Murray, E Burns.

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MICKEY Linden makes his first start for Down in this year’s National League against Waterford on Sunday.

Miceal Magill makes his first start in over a year, having recovered from cruciate knee ligament injury, at centre-halfback at the expense of Liam Howlett.

Down U21 keeper Peter Travers is preferred to Michael McVeigh in goals while Brian Burns, who missed the win over Tipperary a fortnight ago, returns at full-back in place of Shane McMahon.

Down: P Travers, F Caulfield, B Burns, M McMurray, A Molloy, M Magill, S Poland, C Deegan (capt), S Ward, G McMahon, G Murdock, P Sloan, S Ward, M Linden, G Deegan

Subs: M McVeigh, S McMahon, L Howlett, P McConville, P McGoldrick, J McAlinden, S Caulfield, L Parr, G Murphy, E O’Hagan, A Quinn, G Smith, B Loughran, M McEvoy

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