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Rodgers to miss out but he’s still feeling on a high

Down won’t name their Championship side until later this evening.

But it seems almost certain manager James McCartan will have to plan without his captain Ambrose Rodgers.

A stress fracture sustained in training has been slow to respond to treatment, but the big, long striding Longstone clubman, can afford to be philosophical.

For two years ago in the last five minutes of an All Ireland qualifier against Wexford he suffered an horrific injury to his spleen.

He was then rushed to a Dublin hospital where he had the spleen removed.

“My mother Bronagh worried like hell the first time I resumed playing, but thankfully I’ve had no problems,” he said.

Ambrose, whose late father Ambrose, senior, wore the Down colours with great distinction for many years, made his Down Championship debut against Cavan in Breffni Park in 2004 when Paddy O’Rourke was manager.

Now a full time coaching officer with Down GAA, he loves every minute of his involvement both on and off the pitch.

“I can’t think of any greater honour than to be playing for my county.

“Midfield is my preferred position, but nowadays you have to be prepared to play anywhere.

“As captain you always go out to play your best and lead by example.

“That’s what the championship is all about. It’s the time of year you want to be involved.

“We’re under no illusions. There’s still a lot of work to be done and certainly we’re not looking beyond Sunday’s match in Ballybofey.”

His biggest disappointment was losing an All Ireland Under-21 final to Galway but victory over Donegal would be the ideal pick me up after his ongoing leg injury.

Dan Gordon of Loughinisland would appear to be the most likely replacement in the middle of the field.

But there are also suggestions that Gordon may yet play full back in an effort to curb Donegal’s exciting under-21 star Michael Murphy, a player with the skill and ability to torpedo Down.

Belfast Telegraph