Down manager James McCartan will get an early chance to assess his side when Meath provide the opposition in a special match in aid of the Ryan Doyle appeal fund at Pairc Esler today (5.30pm).
McCartan will be denied the services of some players who are assisting their university sides while others are injured, but the Down boss believes that the match will provide the launch-pad for the team’s involvement in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup competition — in which they have been bracketed alongside Cavan and Armagh in Section C, with Queen’s having pulled out of the competition meaning that the Mournemen could now only have two matches.
Down spokesman Paul Rooney suggests that the game against Meath will help sharpen the players’ competitive edge.
“This could prove a particularly useful match as Meath are keen to get off to a good start under their new manager,” said Rooney.
“We have to play Cavan and Armagh as things stand in the McKenna Cup and these will be far from easy challenges.”
Meanwhile, two former Tyrone players find themselves in the spotlight right now for rather different reasons.
Mattie McGleenan, who distinguished himself at full-forward for the Red Hands over a decade ago, is the new manager of the Scotstown club in Monaghan.
McGleenan comes in at a time when Scotstown are anxious to regain the status they enjoyed several years ago when they were the top club in the county.
And Ciaran McBride, who played alongside McGleenan in the Tyrone forward line, has just brought Omagh CBS to Corn na nOg trophy glory.
McBride, who has also managed the school’s MacRory Cup team in tandem with former Fermanagh player Kieran Donnelly, is keen to see his youthful Omagh charges now go on to make an impact at a higher level in the Ulster colleges’ sphere.
“Winning the Corn na nOg is a big step forward for these boys, but they have to show now that they can build on this,” says McBride who is also a member of the Football Review Committee which has come up with a number of recommendations aimed at improving gaelic football.