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Burns gets opening shot at Donegal

By Declan Bogue

With county squads due to return to the training pitch on Sunday past, the GAA have released the finalised fixtures list for the 2016 National Leagues.

Most of the Ulster attention will be focused on Division Two of the football league, with five Ulster teams; Armagh, Tyrone, Derry, Cavan and Fermanagh, all seeking to gain promotion to the top flight.

The first night of the leagues will be January 30 and Eamonn Burns gets his tenure as Down manager off to a high profile start when they host Donegal in Pairc Esler in a Division One tie.

A week later, they are at Ulster champions Monaghan, who they will meet in the Championship and who get their season under way with a trip to Roscommon.

Derry get their season under way by playing at the somewhat unfamiliar surroundings of Owenbeg, rather than Celtic Park, as they host Fermanagh.

Tyrone will greet Cavan at Healy Park while Armagh are away to Meath on the same day.

Antrim's footballers will have to embark on the long trip to Netwatch Cullen Park to take on Carlow as they bid to finally make it out of the basement Division Four.

Their home fixtures for the year ahead have been confirmed for Corrigan Park.

PJ O'Mullan junior will have his first taste of National League action in charge of the Saffron hurlers on February 13 when they make the relatively short trip to Owenbeg to take on Derry.

They host Kildare a week later in Ballycastle, and have away games against Westmeath and a jaunt to London, while they are also at home to Carlow.

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