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The Irish News Archive: July 4 1998: Derry hurlers aiming to end Ulster title famine against Antrim

GETTING INTO SHAPE...Derry hurlers limber up during a midweek training session at Owenbeg. The county will be competing in its first Senior final since 1931 against Antrim tomorrow
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THERE’S a brewing hurling rivalry between Antrim and Derry and the Ulster final tomorrow provides the platform for its expression.

Take it for granted, the 1998 Ulster final with its somewhat unique inclusion of Oak Leaf ash, will be one of promise.

A promise of end to end action with the so-called weaker chasing the so-called superior ash swingers.

The promise of the in red and white seeking history,

Seeking to appoint themselves legends, unearthing from the shadow of its county’s superstar footballers, to force upon its own people to recognise this alien game called hurling.

For too long Derry boys have stood at the back of the hall.

For 67 years Derry hurling has been waiting its call.

For 90 years the expression of Derry hurling championship joy has not been witnessed. At the fore of the hall stand Antrim.

A Saffron unit which for many lifetimes dictated the outcome of the Ulster Championships.

A county which for many years took for granted the path to an All-Ireland hurling semi-final and the chance to pay homage to Liam McCarthy’s wisdom in the circus showpiece - the All-Ireland Final.

It’s not Antrim’s fault that Munster, Leinster, and Connacht to some degree, are pucking the sliothar faster and further.

Indeed the finger of blame could be pointed at Derry and Down’s past failings.

To the other Ulster counties who kick rather than swing, and to the historic northern adoption of football first, hurling second.

ST MALACHY’S middle distance aces head to the BLE national junior championships at Tullamore tomorrow in search of double success.

Colm McLean has already qualified for the World Juniors in France with its 3.47.03 run which set a new record for the Irish schools.

He now turns his attention to the 800m where he ran 1.49.64 in Estonia.

He should win but will need to watch Denis Murray from Cork.

Conor Sweeney is still only 16 but has smashed both Ulster and Irish schools intermediate records.

He faces a very strong field in the 1500 which includes Cork winner Paul O’Reilly, Paul Carroll from Leevale and Monaghan’s Enda Johnston, second in the Ulsters.

Dermot Donnelly runs in the AAA 10000 metres championship in Bedford tomorrow and will be looking for a placed finish.

Donnelly has already broken 5000 and 10000 metre records and warmed up for this one by taking second behind Eddie King at the Mary Peters track last weekend.

AUTOGRAPH hunters may well have damaged Colin Montgomerie’s chances of clinching that sought after hat-trick of wins at Druids Glen. Yesterday, the defending Murphy’s Irish Open champion slumped to a second round 74 to finish joint fourth, one shot behind the shock halfway leaders on 139.

“After finishing my first round I was surrounded by autograph hunters and you must keep walking or you would be there all day.

“I tripped over a rock outside the locker room and I have torn a ligament in my right ankle. I got it strapped up in the medical bus but it was very sore today and that may be why I didn’t hit a fairway from the 10th,” explained Monty.

“I have lost my balance but I will have more treatment this evening.

“I’m only one shot behind and that’s not a bad position to be in. I was told that two weeks’ rest would cure it but I was never advised to pull out.

“Two weeks would mean I’d miss Loch Lomond and The Open – I can’t miss Loch Lomond.”

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