New-look counties set for McKenna Cup action
It's a short-lived Christmas for Ulster's Gaelic footballers as they get their Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup campaign underway tomorrow.
All games are throwing in at 2pm, with three new county managers getting a look at their charges for the first time.
There is a real novelty look to Monaghan and Derry, both under fresh management, when they meet at Inniskeen.
Monaghan are back under the management of Seamus McEnaney, who departed the job back in the winter of 2010 having led them to their second Ulster final defeat to Tyrone in four years.
They are coming up against Derry, who finally get to see Rory Gallagher in an Oakleaf bobble hat. This is the third Ulster county Gallagher will have managed after Donegal and his native Fermanagh. They will be without their Slaughtneil dual-code contingent, but after a period of discontent over the winter, they will be glad to see a team back out on the field.
At Brewster Park, two Tyrone legends and multiple All-Ireland winners will be wearing Fermanagh colours as they take over the Erne County. Ryan McMenamin had been in as a selector under Rory Gallagher in 2018 and 2019 and now takes to life as the head honcho, supported by his former team mate Joe McMahon.
They also have former Dromore and Kilcoo manager Paul McIver co-opted into the coaching set-up.
If you ever needed proof just how blended the Ulster coaching scene is, McMenamin can look down the sideline at the Down management and see their manager Paddy Tally, who of course was coach of Tyrone when they won the 2003 All-Ireland. Tally enters his second season as manager of the Mournemen, having already been coach when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2010.
The final game is between Cavan and Armagh in Kingspan Breffni Park, a repeat of the pairing that fought out two entertaining Ulster semi-finals this summer. This is Mickey Graham's second season over the Breffnimen, while Kieran McGeeney enters his sixth year at the helm.