Grimley names Armagh team for league opener

Armagh manager Paul Grimley has selected a new-look team for Saturday's Allianz Football League Division 2 opener against Laois at O'Moore Park (throw-in 7pm).

There are some familiar faces, including team captain Ciaran McKeever at centre-back, but with a few notable injuries and the absence of Crossmaglen's All-Ireland Club Championship-tied players, Grimley is blooding some younger players.

The full-back line from last July's All-Ireland SFC qualifier defeat to Roscommon is gone. Andy Mallon is not currently part of the panel and Declan McKenna and Brendan Donaghy are both out injured.

Mark Shields and Gary McCooey will flank Killeavy clubman James Donnelly in the full-back line in Portlaoise, with skipper McKeever joined by fellow regulars Kevin Dyas and Finnian Moriarty in the half-backs.

Kieran Toner, one of seven players retained from the team that played Roscommon, will have Maghery's James Lavery in midfield.

Next week's round 2 clash with Wexford may come too soon for centre-fielder Charlie Vernon, who is working his way back from a broken foot.

The Forker brothers from Maghery form the spine of the Orchard attack, with Stefan, who scored 0-5 against Cavan and 0-6 against Down in the Dr McKenna Cup, hoping to impress at full-forward.

Armagh and Laois both suffered relegation from the top flight in last year's Allianz League, so this is a key game in terms of building momentum for a promotion bid.

ARMAGH (NFL v Laois): Philip McEvoy; Mark Shields, James Donnelly, Gary McCooey; Kevin Dyas, Ciaran McKeever (capt), Finnian Moriarty; Kieran Toner, James Lavery; Caolan Rafferty, Aidan Forker, Ethan Rafferty; Gavin McParland, Stefan Forker, Brian Mallon.

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