Thursday 22 March 2018

Dooher returns to lead Tyrone

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

TYRONE'S 'Captain Fantastic' Brian Dooher returns for his first game since last year's All-Ireland semi-finals to lead Mickey Harte's men out in Sunday's Ulster SFC clash with Antrim.

Dooher (34) has battled through a series of injuries to line out in his 14th championship season and Stephen O'Neill, who also missed Tyrone's entire league campaign after dislocating his elbow, also makes his seasonal bow on Sunday.

Despite a rocky league, in which they were relegated, the Tyrone side has a familiar look.

Justin McMahon regains full fitness to return at full-back while Ryan McMenamin moves to centre-back to replace the injured Conor Gormley.

With this year's new find Aidan Cassidy now injured, Kevin Hughes gets his spot in midfield and Martin Swift makes his championship debut at corner-back.

Antrim's decision to rest Kevin Niblock for their league final has paid off as he is fit to start Sunday's big rematch of last year's Ulster final. But manager Liam Bradley remains tight-lipped over whether Kevin McGourty will play any part.

The Antrim boss is also boosted by the return to full fitness of Brendan Herron who partners Aodhan Gallagher in midfield.

But there is no starting place for CJ McGourty and another St Gall's star, Andy McClean, has failed to recover from a virus. He is replaced at full-back by Aaron Douglas.

Offaly marksman Niall McNamee has been passed fit to start in their Leinster derby with Meath. Former Dublin underage star John Coughlan, who transferred this year under the parentage rule, is one of two Offaly championship debutants.

The other is Paraic Sullivan, who joins his brother Shane in defence. Their younger brother Anton (18) is among the subs.

Patrick Hurney will line out alongside his brother Gary in the Waterford full-forward line for their Munster SFC clash with arch-rivals Clare.

Hurney replaces Robert Ahearne at full-forward and Eamonn Walsh comes in for wing-back Niall Hennessy.

Clare boss Peter McDermott is without injured regulars Graham Kelly and Laurence Healy and has included three championship newcomers -- Barry Duggan, Brian Carrig and Diarmuid Daly -- in his starters.

Longford's starters to face Louth in Portlaoise include Paul Barden and Brian Kavanagh, who was believed to be definitely out with a foot injury and is expected to face a late fitness test.

Carlow's hurlers have named a full-strength team to take on Laois in their opener with Eoin Nolan recovering from injury in time.

Elsewhere Mayo's footballers now have injury worries over Aidan Kilcoyne (knee) ahead of their Connacht quarter-final against Sligo on June 5 and Tipperary's hurlers could be without half-forward Pat Kerwick (groin injury) for their big Munster SHC showdown with Cork on Sunday week.

Irish Independent

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