Two Down players who just missed out on collecting coveted Vodafone Allstar awards will get their big chance on Sunday to assuage their disappointment when they line out in the county football championship final at Pairc Esler, Newry.
Kalum King is certain to once again be an influential figure in the Bryansford side while Kevin McKernan will underpin the Burren defence when the clubs meet in what is viewed as the most appealing Mourne decider for years.
Both players had been in the frame for Allstars following a chain of consistent performances in James McCartan’s side but while delighted that their colleagues Brendan McVeigh, Danny Hughes, Benny Coulter and Martin Clarke lifted their prizes, they are now in hot pursuit of a different form of reward.
King’s emergence as a powerhouse midfielder has been one of the significant championship plus factors this year and now Bryansford manager Peter McGrath, who steered Down to All-Ireland glory in 1991 and 1994, is hoping that the burly accountant can lay the basis for a county title triumph.
King is likely to go head-to-head with his Down colleague Declan Rooney in the central area.
Rooney is normally a defender in Down’s colours but his midfield authority has had much to do with Burren’s progress to date in the Championship.
McKernan is the glue that binds the Burren rearguard together. He has been a revelation this year and with Daniel McCartan alongside him, he will spearhead the resistance to a Bryansford attack that includes the lively Conor Maginn, so effective as an impact substitute for Down this term.
Meanwhile, Omagh St Enda’s and Carrickmore will renew their rivalry in the Tyrone senior football championship semi-final tomorrow although this time Omagh boss Paddy Crozier will have a stronger hand from which to choose.
Stephen Mullan, Micheal Gallagher and Dara O’Neill will be back from suspension while Joe McMahon could have a bigger say. Ronan O’Neill’s scoring blitz in last weekend’s drawn game further underlined his reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the O’Neill county.
Carrickmore manager Adrian Clarke is aware that his side face an even bigger challenge this time but still believes that his mix of youth and experience will be capable of coping with what will be a formidable Omagh challenge.