Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan has handed Ulster Championship baptisms to centre-half-back Brian Cox and midfielder Eoin Donnelly for Sunday’s eagerly-awaited quarter-final against Down at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
Cox earns his central role in defence on the back of some sterling performances of late while Donnelly’s emergence as a player of real quality in the engine-room over the course of the Allianz League convinced Canavan that he is ready for Championship fare.
And contrary to speculation, Seamus Quigley is named at full-forward where he will be flanked by Tomas Corrigan and former Irish League player Shane McCabe.
There had been reports that Quigley was contemplating emigrating after he had missed a training session and challenge match. Certainly, Quigley’s height, weight and uncanny accuracy could prove vital assets as Fermanagh bid to atone for their disastrous campaign last year.
Donnelly’s partner in midfield will be the combative Shane Lyons.
Fermanagh liaison officer Gerard Tracey confirmed that it was decided not to risk players such as Martin McGrath, Tommy McElroy and James Sherry all of whom have been getting back to full fitness following injuries lately.
“They may get game time on Sunday depending on how things are going but the manager is very happy with the team he has selected,” said Tracey.
“The players are in there on merit.”
And Down manager James McCartan also introduces new blood by giving Darren O’Hagan his first Championship start at left-full-back. Aidan Brannigan is given the No 5 shirt and alongside him are the seasoned Kevin McKernan and Conor Garvey.
Up front, Arthur McConville is given the huge task of stepping into the distinguished shoes of Benny Coulter.
Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, D O’Hagan, A Brannigan, K McKernan, C Garvey, A Rogers, K King, D Hughes, M Poland, A Carr, C Laverty, A McConville, C Maginn.
Fermanagh: R Gallagher; N Bogue, B Owens, N McGovern, D Kelly, B Cox, B Mulrone, S Lyons, E Donnelly, D Keenan, B Og Maguire, R Jones, T Corrigan, S Quigley, S McCabe.