Experimental look to Down-Tyrone clash

There will be players tasting Allianz League action for the first time on both sides when Down host Ulster rivals Tyrone in Newry tomorrow night (throw-in 7pm).

Young Castlewellan clubman Michael Cunningham has been retained in goal by Down manager James McCartan after featuring in the Dr McKenna Cup.

Cunningham will make his league debut from the off despite Brendan McVeigh's reported recovery from a niggling knee injury.

Ryan Boyle and Ryan Mallon are two more Division 1 newcomers for the Mourne men in a defence which will be marshalled by Dan McCartan and Aidan Carr.

Kalum King and Kevin McKernan continue their midfield partnership from the McKenna Cup competition, while Glasdrumman's Connaire Harrison, another of the new players to impress in recent outings, slots in at full forward alongside the fit-again Paul McComiskey.

McCartan is missing injured trio Danny Hughes, Dan Gordon and Ambrose Rogers but will be hopeful of making home advantage count against a new-look Tyrone side.

The Red Hands will field six league debutants from the throw-in at Páirc Elser, starting with goalkeeper Niall Morgan and wing backs Ryan McKenna and Ronan McNamee.

Mickey Harte is rewarding some of the players who caught the eye during their victorious McKenna Cup run last month, which culminated in a 4-11 to 1-10 final victory over Monaghan last Saturday.

The full-forward line of league debutant Connor McAliskey, team captain Stephen O'Neill and Mark Donnelly are retained from the Monaghan game.

Plunkett Kane and Kevin Gallagher will start in midfield and at wing forward respectively, completing the list of league newcomers for Harte's charges.

There is an experienced spine to be relied on though, with Conor Gormley and Joe McMahon bolstering the defence, and Sean Cavanagh, Peter Harte and O'Neill providing the direction and leadership in attack.

DOWN (NFL v Tyrone): Michael Cunningham; Damian Turley, Dan McCartan, Ryan Boyle; Ryan Mallon, Aidan Carr, Darren O'Hagan; Kalum King, Kevin McKernan; Keith Quinn, Mark Poland, Brendan Coulter; Conor Laverty, Connarie Harrison, Paul McComiskey.

TYRONE: Niall Morgan; Aidan McCrory, Conor Gormley, Cathal McCarron; Ryan McKenna, Joe McMahon, Ronan McNamee; Plunkett Kane, Sean Cavanagh; Kevin Gallagher, Peter Harte, Matthew Donnelly; Connor McAliskey, Stephen O'Neill, Mark Donnelly.

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