GAA Football

Derry and Antrim hand out debuts

Derrys Niall McCusker under pressure from Kerry's Kieran Donaghy at yesterdays NFL Cup final. Picture Declan Roughan 27 April 2008

FOR a variety of reasons, Antrim and Derry will field under-strength teams for tomorrow’s first round McKenna Cup match in Ballinascreen.

Derry have elected to give some of their fringe players a run out including Niall McCusker, Adrian Lagan and Tipperary-born John O’Dwyer, who all make their first appearance for the senior footballers.

A number of key players are rested from the NFL quarter-final defeat to Cork with only Joe Brolly, Enda Muldoon, Sean Martin Lockhart, Johnny McBride and David O’Neill remaining.

Antrim have been forced to make changes because of several injuries, most notably Locky McCurdy who is in hospital with a broken cheekbone sustained playing hurling for St John’s against Rossa last Sunday.

Midfielder Ciaran O’Neill dislocated a shoulder in a useful challenge match against Tyrone last Friday night while Gearoid Adams has a hamstring injury and is also unavailable.

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ALEX Ferguson has set his Manchester United players the target of winning their six remaining Premiership games to complete the first leg of the treble.

The league leaders must squeeze six matches into the last three weeks of the campaign and the United boss claims they cannot afford any slip-ups during this hectic finale.

Champions Arsenal, stung by their FA Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of United, are desperate to deny them the title and Arsene Wenger’s side could go top if they win at Middlesboro today.

Just over 20 hours later United tackle bitter rivals Leeds at Elland Road in a game Ferguson claims they must win.

“They’re all cup finals now and you get the same number of points from each one,” he said.

“The important thing is not to lose any of them and we want to win them all. That would give us the title and we know it.”

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CLIFTONVILLE manager Marty Quinn will be hoping that his side’s morale boosting Bass Irish Cup semi-final win against Linfield will prove to be the tonic they needed going into their make-or-break final match decider against Newry Town.

“The win on Tuesday has given the lads a big lift. If we’d lost it would have been really hard to rally the troops, but we’re in good spirits going into the game,” he said.

The Reds sit just a point ahead of Portadown in the race to avoid playing either Ards or Bangor in the relegation/promotion play-off match. With Portadown playing already relegated Omagh Town, Quinn knows there is no room for error.

“It’s in our own hands. But we have to go out and play for a win. Omagh will make it really hard for Portadown, but you would have to fancy them to get a result. For that reason, I feel that we have to win to make sure.”

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