Devlin returns to bolster Down challenge
Down may be venturing into potentially difficult waters in Division Three of the Allianz Football League but Kilcoo club man Paul Devlin believes that a spirited Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup itinerary can inculcate the necessary confidence and resolve for the second most important competition in the fixtures calendar.
Devlin, who made his debut eight years ago but left the panel in early 2017 because of a lack of game time under Eamonn Burns, may have experienced more lows than highs with the Mourne county, but this does not dissuade him from embarking on 2019 imbued with optimism.
Cavan form the first hurdle for new manager Paddy Tally's side tomorrow and Devlin, whose versatility could now boost the side, is steadfast in the belief that if Down can manage to tuck a couple of wins under their belts they might have the capacity to chart further progress.
"We're going in against a Cavan side that will be anxious to impress in what is Mickey Graham's first match in charge, just as we will be in Paddy Tally's start to his term in charge of Down so it will be a very interesting tussle," says Devlin.
Devlin along with Kevin McKernan, Caolan Mooney, Donal O'Hare, Niall McParland and Darren O'Hagan is expected to represent the experienced edge of a Down side that have become strangers to silverware.
Cavan have endured similar frustration in bidding to end an Ulster title famine that stretches back to 1997 and a lengthy separation from the McKenna Cup.
In the Ulster club U21 tournament hosted by the Kickhams Creggan club, St Eunan's have been drawn against Clann Eireann (Lurgan) in the preliminary round on January 12.
The first round draw is as follows: Dromore (Tyrone) v St Eunan's (Donegal) or Clann Eireann (Armagh), Carryduff (Down) v Carrickmacross (Monaghan), Crosserlough (Cavan) v St Brigid's (Antrim), Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) v O'Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt (Derry).