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McAleenan big loss as Down aim to step up promotion drive

 

Missing out: Niall Donnelly’s absence will be felt by Down
Missing out: Niall Donnelly’s absence will be felt by Down
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Down manager Paddy Tally will be forced to do without the services of defender Ryan McAleenan for a few weeks following a leg injury incurred in the Allianz Football League Division Three defeat to Laois last Sunday.

This means a defensive reshuffle for tomorrow's must-win game against Sligo at Collooney, however Tally can take considerable encouragement from the form currently being displayed by newcomers Conor Francis, Liam Devlin, Conor McGrady and Pat Havern.

Kevin McKernan, Ryan Johnston and Darren O'Hagan are among the old guard who are expected to get their first taste of league game time.

Derry manager Damian McErlain, meanwhile, has digested the theory that his side is in pole position to gain promotion from Division Four of the Allianz Football League - but that's as far as it goes.

McErlain is much more engrossed in assessing his resources for tomorrow's clash with London.

McErlain faces an anxious wait to see if Jason Rocks and Sean Quinn can make a full recovery from knocks they picked up against Antrim, but he is already resigned to being without Ryan Bell in the longer term.

Meanwhile, St Dympna's, Dromore will take on O'Donovan Rossa (Magherafelt) in the semi-final of the Bank Of Ireland Under-21 Club Champions Tournament at the Kickhams Creggan club tomorrow.

The Magherafelt side look to be in pole position at this point in time to land the title but they are taking nothing for granted.

Meanwhile, Niamh Marley is hoping to return to the Armagh ladies side for tomorrow's game against Laois in the Lidl National Football League Division Two. Marley missed most of last year because of injury.

Tyrone face the trip to Cavan where they will meet the home county at the Cavan Gaels club complex. The Red Hands hope to build on the progress they made last year, while Down will be hoping to show an improvement in form when they face Offaly in Division Three.

In Division Four, Fermanagh host Derry in an Ulster derby while Antrim will face Leitrim.

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