Derry minors lay down a marker

By Niall Gartland

THE Ulster Minor Championship is up and running and it’s set to be another busy weekend for teams across the province.

Derry, who delivered a phenomenal match in their first outing of the championship, defeating Down by 21 points, will take on Monaghan in Owenbeg. The Oakleafers, who were strongly fancied heading into the tie on the back of a strong Ulster League campaign, ran riot from start to finish with inside duo John Boyle and Oisin Doherty doing most of the damage up front.

This is their opponents Monaghan’s third game of the campaign, and so far it’s very much gone according to plan. Dermot Malone’s side started the group stages with a victory over Down, and it was really no contest in their second day out, overcoming Fermanagh by 3-12 to 0-5 at Brewster Park on Saturday.

Reigning Ulster champions Tyrone claimed victory over Cavan in their championship opener, but they had to withstand a Cavan fightback to get over the line with the minimum to spare. With the wind at their backs in the first half they dominated things and were well worth their 0-8 to 0-3 interval advantage.

They stretched that lead on the restart but just as they were looking comfortable they lost centre half-forward Ruairi McCullagh to a second yellow card at the beginning of the final quarter.

That was a blow for the visitors and Cavan upped the ante to hold their opponents to just a single point as they clawed their way back into the game only for their comeback to come up short.

Seanie Smith’s Cavan will take confidence from that performance as they gear up for their second game of the campaign, where they will take on Antrim. The Saffrons, likewise, will be in good spirits after reeling in Armagh and claiming a draw last weekend.

In the only Sunday game this weekend, Donegal, who were in action last night against Fermanagh, will face Down in the curtain-raiser to the big Ulster Senior Championship clash between the two teams. Ulster League champions Donegal will be big favourites for that one as Down have struggled to get to the pitch of proceedings, shipping two big losses to date.

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