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James McCartan keeps team unchanged; showing faith with winners

By Declan Bogue

Down manager James McCartan has named an unchanged team for Sunday's Ulster semi-final at Breffni Park against All-Ireland champions, Donegal.

Aidan Carr was an absentee from the quarter-final win over Derry and he was expected to come into contention for a starting slot, but he injured a hamstring during a training camp last weekend and is expected to be out for six weeks.

Carr also spent most of Down's run to the 2010 All-Ireland final out with hamstring trouble and his absence robs the Mournemen of a consistent performer.

Danny Hughes was held in reserve against Derry, but since then his fitness has improved considerably. He could be in line to be named as a late replacement and Ambrose Rogers' fitness continues to go up the charts.

McCartan has spoken of the task of facing the team that dismantled Tyrone in Ballybofey, commenting: "The task is probably even bigger than it was in the Ulster final last year because they (Donegal) are the All-Ireland champions. They are the team to beat and they have had no turnover of players.

"The majority of the players that they want will be available, while we have a lot of fresh blood in there that are going to have a steep learning curve."

From the team that started the Ulster final last year, Down are vastly changed. In defence they have no Darren O'Hagan, Dan Gordon, Liam Doyle and Aidan Brannigan. Carr also lined out in the forwards that day and was an important figure for them.

In their place come young guns Ryan Boyle, Keith Quinn and Niall Madine, while Peter Turley and Declan Rooney are more experienced figures that bolster the defence.

The Donegal team named in the press rarely materialises on the pitch on matchday, but manager Jim McGuinness has stated that they will be without 2012 Player of the Year Karl Lacey who is recovering from knee surgery, and All-Star midfielder Neil Gallagher.

DOWN: Brendan McVeigh; Daniel McCartan, Brendan McArdle, Ryan Boyle; Declan Rooney, Peter Turley, Keith Quinn; Kalum King, Kevin McKernan; Ambrose Rogers, Mark Poland (Capt), Niall Madine; Donal O'Hare, Brendan Coulter, Conor Laverty.

DONEGAL: Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamonn McGee; Declan Walsh, Frank McGlynn, Anthony Thompson; Ryan Bradley, Rory Kavanagh; David Walsh, Leo McLoone, Mark McHugh; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden.

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