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Fired-up Down are in the hunt for big prizes

By John Campbell

Down hurling boss Gerard Monan found his team immersed in three competitions earlier in the year when they were embroiled in the 2013 Ulster Championship final against Antrim, the Kehoe Cup and the Allianz League.

Now Monan's men are facing into a rather similar itinerary as they prepare to take on Donegal in the Ulster Championship tomorrow at Clones (12.00pm) before turning their attention to the Christy Ring Cup promotion play-off against newly-crowned Rackard Cup holders Tyrone.

Monan had been optimistic his side might have wrested the provincial crown from Antrim in February but they lost heavily and the flame of hope has been rekindled for the Ulster series.

Down looked comfortable in beating Armagh by 5-24 to 1-15 in a Christy Ring Cup relegation play-off, a win which set up their clash with Tyrone next Saturday.

Johnny McCusker, Conor Woods, James Coyle, Michael Ennis, Scott Nicholson and Donal Hughes are among the players to whom Monan will be looking to provide leadership tomorrow.

Donegal will be without the suspended Enda McDermott and the injured Danny Cullen and will look to sharpshooter Kevin Campbell to keep them ticking over.

In tomorrow's other Ulster title tie, Armagh host Derry at the Athletic Grounds (3.00pm).

Manager John Lennon will rely on skipper Ciaran Clifford, Paul Gaffney, Nathan Curry, Cathal Carville and Ryan Gaffney to underpin Armagh's challenge.

Derry will be well served by Ruairi Convery, Oisin McCloskey and Shane Farren. Oak Leaf manager Ger Rogan will look to the Hinphey brothers Kevin and Liam to shore up the midfield and half-back line.

DERRY: D McDermott; P Cleary, C Quinn, E McGuckin; R McCloskey, L Hinphey, C McQuillan; K Hinphey, M O'Hagan; B Rogers, R Convery, A Kelly; S Farren, P McCloskey, O McCloskey.

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