Braniff has recovered from a shoulder injury
to take his place in the Down team for Sunday’s
Ulster SHC semi-final against London.
The Portaferry sharpshooter dislocated his
shoulder in a challenge match against Dublin
a month ago, but has recovered just in time
for Down’s opening game of the championship.
Down will be looking to Braniff and full
forward Gareth ’Magic’ Johnston
to rack up the scores against Mick O’Dea’s
Down hurling ’keeper Graham Clarke
insists that the Mourne men must be cautious
when London visit Newry this Sunday to decide
which side will compete in this year’s
Ulster SHC decider.
"We watched the first-half of the Armagh
game and London were definitely playing some
good stuff. We played them in the league at
Newry and they put it up t us for 90 per cent
of the game and we managed to score a goal
with the last shot to gloss over the win,"
The Down net-minder was in attendance at
London’s meeting with Antrim in last
year’s Championship and admits that
it was a game in which the Exiles could well
have shocked the eventual Ulster Champions
"I was at the last Championship match
London played against Antrim and London probably
should have beaten Antrim that day.
"London have a couple of good forwards,
especially Martin Finn. He is a very strong,
robust character, a bit like Geoffrey McGonigle,
deadly from frees and took some quality frees
from way out against Armagh so we need to
be switched on."
London manager Mick O’Dea believes
his side’s championship outings against
Tyrone and Armagh in the past fortnight gives
them an advantage over Down going into Sunday’s
Ulster SHC semi-final.
The Ardsmen are favourites to progress to
the provincial decider, but Cork native O’Dea
feels the momentum built up by the Exiles
can help them pull off a shock result.
He said: "It’s a step up for us.
Down would be a good team, but things are
going in the right direction for us.
"We played Tyrone in the preliminary
round, which was actually a good game for
us. It got the rustiness out of us, for we
hadn’t played for seven or eight weeks.
"We needed that game as preparation
to go in against Armagh, and without it I
don’t think we would have beaten Armagh.
"We’re stepping up a notch in
every game and hopefully we can lift it to
another level on Sunday. The two games have
brought us on a lot."
1 Graham Clarke
2 Laim Clarke
3 Stephen Murray
4 Finty Conway
5 Simon Wilson
6 Ciaran Courtney
7 Gabriel Clarke
8 Andy Savage
9 Ruari McGratten
10 Paul Brannff
11 Brendan McGourty
12 Conor Woods
13 Eoin Clarke
14 Gareth Johnston
15 Stephen Clarke