By Michael McMullan
THE Ulster u-20 semi-final between Donegal and Derry has been brought forward and will take place on Saturday at Owenbeg (4pm) following Ulster GAA’s CCC meeting on Tuesday morning.
Following a coin toss, Derry have home advantage with Down’s semi-final with Monaghan remaining on Wednesday, April 12. Down won the toss and the game is now in Páirc Esler.
The fixture change comes after Derry GAA’s appeal to have the game brought forward to outside the floating seven-day window, which came as a result of a change in the wording on rule 6.17 at a recent meeting of GAA’s Central Council.
As the ruling stands, players are not permitted to play u-20 and senior championship in any seven day window.
Ulster GAA turned down an initial appeal on Saturday from Derry to have the game forward.
The GAA told The Irish News that no change would be made to their ruling, but the news of Ulster’s u-turn will be welcomed by Gallagher and Derry u-20 manager Martin Boyle.
Without it, Derry had a decision over their five u-20 players on the senior panel, namely Eoin McEvoy, Mark Doherty, Niall O’Donnell, Matthew Downey and Lachlan Murray.
Had any of them started of game on against Donegal u-20s on the original date (April 12) they’d have been ruled out for Derry’s opening game in the defence of the Anglo Celt Cup against Fermanagh three days later.
Derry u-20s were quarter winners over Fermanagh with Downey, O’Donnell and Murray scoring a combined 2-9 out of Derry’s 3-12 tally.
It took a penalty shootout for Donegal to see off Antrim, with Conor Laverty’s Down ousting All-Ireland champions Tyrone.
Monaghan’s u-20 game comes in the same seven-day window as their senior clash with Tyrone (April 16) but not of the u-20s that have featured to date have played with Vinny Corey’s senior squad.
Galway are the only Connacht county not to have u-20 and senior championship in the same seven-day window. Like Ulster, the Connacht u-20 championship is knock-out with Leinster and Munster players on a round robin basis.