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Donegal are facing up to life after Rory Kavanagh retirement

By Declan Bogue

The retirement of Donegal's Rory Kavanagh has left the 2014 All-Ireland finalists with some headaches in the engine room.

Kavanagh announced his retirement at the age of 32, after 49 Championship appearances and 4-41 to his tally. He is fifth in the table of most Championship games played for the county, and 10th in terms of overall appearances, having lined out in 132 games.

"I made my mind up before last season that it would be my last," the Letterkenny schoolteacher said.

"I spent a lot of time thinking about my future since (the All-Ireland defeat against Kerry) and deciding to retire has been the hardest decision I ever had to make.

"I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it. The four years under Jim (McGuinness) were just an amazing journey and gave us all memories that we will never forget. I wish Rory Gallagher and the new management team all the very best. I'm very close to this group of players and will continue to be. They're a strong group and one of the top teams in the country."

Meanwhile, some teams have been released ahead of this weekend's games, four of which were postponed due to snow on Wednesday night.

Conor McAtamney's form against Fermanagh has earned him another start and the captaincy for Derry, while Eoin McNicholl comes in to replace Thomas Mallon. For Antrim's clash with Tyrone, Sean McVeigh makes his first appearance of the year at midfield.

DERRY (v QUB): E McNicholl; A Hargan, Darryl Mullan, D Brown; P McElroy, L McGoldrick, M Sweeney; C McAtamney (C), M Lynch; C Murphy, J Kearney, C McFaul; N Toner, T O'Brien, N Loughlin

ANTRIM (v Tyrone): C Kerr; T Scullion, C Burke, C O'Rawe; P McAleer, D Lynch, E Killough; B Hasson, S McVeigh; N O'Neill, O Gallagher, D McAleese; CJ McGourty, M Magill, C Fleming.

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