OFFALY'S hopes of knocking Dublin's hurlers off their perch tomorrow took another blow yesterday when experienced centre-back Rory Hanniffy (right) had to withdraw from an already depleted squad with a broken bone in his hand, writes Cliona Foley.
The Birr star picked up the injury a few weeks ago but the extent of the problem was not confirmed until a scan on Thursday, leaving manager Joe Dooley with another big hole to plug, which he is not expected to do until just before throw-in.
Dublin have made two enforced personnel changes and reshuffled their defence from the side that beat Kilkenny in the Allianz Division 1 final.
Oisin Gough and Maurice O'Brien come in for the injured Tomas Brady (full-back) and Joey Boland (centre-back) but start at corner and wing-back respectively as Peter Kelly and Johnny McCaffrey move to shore up the centre of Anthony Daly's defence.
Down's selection for tonight's big Ulster SFC clash with Armagh features two changes from the team that started last year's All-Ireland final. Gerard McCartan replaces the injured Damien Rafferty at corner-back and, with Conor Garvey picking up a knock at training on Thursday, Benny McArdle comes in at right half-back.
Midfield captain Ambrose Rodgers is not included, but there is speculation that he could come off the bench in what would be his first appearance since a cruciate injury in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat of Kerry.