Ulster Club Hurling final: Dunloy and Slaughtneil ready to battle

Slaughtneil's Cormac McKenna battles with Dunloy's Conal Cunning in the Ulster Club semi-final two years ago
Dunloy will be aiming to avenge their provincial semi-final defeat by Slaughtneil two years ago

Dunloy's battle with Slaughtneil at Newry on Sunday [15:00 GMT] promises to be one of the most intriguing Ulster Club Hurling finals in years.

On paper, the Antrim champions look the match-sharper team heading into the decider after their county campaign and defeat of Ballycran in the semi-finals.

But Slaughtneil are a doughty outfit who comfortably saw off the Cuchullains in an Ulster semi-final two years ago.

The Derry champions are aiming for a third title in four years.

They clinched their first Four Seasons Cup by surprising Loughgiel in the 2016 title and they retained the title by outclassing Ballygalget in the decider a year later after a dominant semi-final win over Dunloy.

But two years on, several of that young and callow Dunloy squad have matured considerably and those players, in addition to experienced men such as Paul Shiels and Nigel Elliott, will have had Michael McShane's Slaughtneil in their sights for some time.

Slaughtneil have managed to integrate young players such such as Mark McGuigan and Michael McEldowney into the squad this year but their key performers remain the McKaigue brothers Chrissy and Karl, Brendan Rogers, free-taker Cormac O'Doherty and the McGuigans, Shane and Se.

Dunloy's young stars include county final double goal hero Seaan Elliott, Keelan Molloy, Eoin O'Neill, Conal Cunning and keeper Ryan Elliott, who produced a couple of brilliant close-range saves two weeks ago against Ballycran.

The final scoreline that day of 2-23 to 0-11 was conclusively in Dunloy's favour but it needs to be remembered that the Down champions' challenge imploded after Gerard Hughes' red carding early in the second half.

Slaughtneil hurlers will hope that they have the opportunity of completing a double at Pairc Esler with their camogs in action in their provincial decider against old rivals Loughgiel at 13:00 GMT.

The Derry club have won the last three Ulster and All-Ireland titles but will expect a stern challenge against the Shamrocks.

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