Ulster Club Hurling: Dunloy face Ballycran with Slaughtneil up against Middleton

Nigel Elliott scored Dunloy's first goal in the Antrim final win over Cushendall
Nigel Elliott continues to display goal getting instincts for Dunloy

Dunloy take on Ballycran in the Ulster Club Hurling semi-finals on Sunday with Slaughtneil meeting Middletown in the other last-four tie.

Ballycran surprised defending Ulster champions Slaughtneil in last year's semi-final before losing the decider against Cushendall by five points.

Therefore Dunloy boss Gregory O'Kane has been emphasising that his side must not underestimate the Ardsmen.

O'Kane's main selection issue appears to be whether to start Seaan Elliott.

The youngster scored two late goals after coming off the bench in last month's Antrim final win over the Ruairi Ogs as the Cuchulainns completed a 3-16 to 2-15 triumph.

Dunloy beaten in 2017 Ulster semi-final

Two years ago, Dunloy impressively clinched the Antrim title only to be well beaten by Slaughtneil in the provincial semi-final. Suffice to say, manager O'Kane will be hoping to avoid a repeat performance.

In addition to Elliott's precocious talents, O'Kane is able to call on other hugely talented relative youngsters Keelan Molloy, Eoin O'Neill, Conal Cunning and Ryan Elliott while Nigel Elliott continued his goal getting instincts in the Antrim final.

However, Ballycran will be optimistic that their blend of youth and experience which saw off Portaferry 1-20 to 1-13 in the Down decider can unhinge the Cuchulainns.

Goalkeeper Stephen Keith, Paddy Hughes, Conor Woods are among Ballycran's battle-hardened men with their younger crew members including Stuart Martin, Chris Egan and Phelim Savage.

Chrissy McKaigue is among Slaughtneil's dual stars
Chrissy McKaigue will be in action for Slaughtneil against Middletown in Sunday's first Ulster Club Hurling semi-final

Slaughtneil fancied to reach Ulster final

After clinching a seventh straight Derry title a month ago, Slaughtneil will be strong favourites to account for Armagh champions Middletown in Sunday's first game in the Athletic Grounds double-header.

Slaughtneil were given a stern test by Kevin Lynch's in the Derry final before completing a 1-20 to 1-13 success, helped by a Brendan Rogers goal.

Cormac O'Doherty's accurate free-taking remains a key component in Slaughtneil's arsenal while

Middletown have hurling pedigree of their own after winning seven Armagh titles since 2009 but they are likely to find Michael McShane's side a bridge too far, with the Robert Emmet's dual club able to focus exclusively on hurling this autumn given the footballers' semi-finals defeat in the Derry SFC.

In addition to the provincial hurling semi-finals, the Donegal senior football final replay between holders Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill also takes place on Sunday.

The Glenties outfit missed two injury-time chances to clinch victory in last weekend's turgid 0-8 to 0-8 draw at MacCumhaill Park.

One would be hopeful of a more entertaining contest a week one, but wouldn't bet much on that.

SUNDAY'S CLUB GAA FIXTURES

AIB Ulster Club Hurling semi-finals

Slaughtneil v Middletown - Athletic Grounds, 12:45 GMT

Dunloy v Ballycran - Athletic Grounds, 14:30

Michael Murphy Donegal SFC Final replay

Gaoth Dobhair v Naomh Conaill - Ballybofey, 15:00

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