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McCartan and McIver searching for right blend

By John Campbell

Derry manager Brian McIver is putting his faith in an amalgam of youth and experience for Sunday's vital Ulster Championship quarter-final against Down at Celtic Park.

And his Mourne counterpart James McCartan is doing exactly the same.

While Eoin McNicholl, Ryan Scott, Ryan Bell and Benny Heron will make their debuts in the competition alongside a platoon of more seasoned campaigners for the Oak Leaf side defender Ryan Boyle and emerging attacking ace Niall Madine get the nod for the visitors.

McIver is relieved that the battle-hardened Patsy Bradley is fit to take his place at midfield now that he has recovered from injury and there is a similar bonus for McCartan since skipper Ambrose Rodgers returns to partner Kevin McKernan in the engine-room with Kalum King moving up to full-forward.

This will be the first time that Rogers will have played for Down this year and his return for the championship helps to beef up a side that is still without Conor Garvey, Aidan Carr, Danny Hughes, Dan Gordon and Liam Doyle.

Just as the he rejuvenated Eoin Bradley is flanked by Benny Heron and Collie Devlin in a Derry full-forward line that is capable of asking big questions of the Down defence, King joins Donal O'Hare and Conor Laverty in a Mourne county inside line that bristles with scoring potential

Mark Lynch will skipper Derry from centre-half-back while Charlie Kielt and Sean Leo McGoldrick fill the wing-back berths with Gerard O'Kane and the in-form Chrissy McKaigue lending pace and power to the full-back line that could be tested by Benny Coulter's aerial ability and Laverty's searing pace. Declan Rooney, Peter Turley and Keith Quinn form a new-look Down half-back line.

Derry: E McNicholl; G O'Kane, C McKaigue, R Scott; C Kielt, M Lynch, S L McGoldrick; Patsy Bradley, R Bell; A McAlynn, J Kielt, E Lynn; B Heron, E Bradley, C Devlin.

Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; D Rooney, P Turley, K Quinn; A Rodgers, B McKernan; N Madine, M Poland, B Coulter; D O'Hare, K King, C Laverty.

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