Byron and McAnallen fit for battle in league decider

ALLIANZ National Football League final protagonists Laois and Tyrone have received massive boosts ahead of Sunday’s eagerly awaited pennant decider at Croke Park.

Laois goalkeeper Fergal Byron, who missed the semi-final victory over All-Ireland champions Armagh, has fully recovered from a viral infection while Cormac McAnallen returns from suspension to beef up Tyrone’s midfield challenge. Byron replaces his deputy Michael Nolan and McAnallen comes in for Kevin Hughes to partner Sean Cavanagh.

Laois have also made one positional switch. Stephen Kelly, who started at full forward against Armagh, now switches to left corner forward, with Damien Delaney taking over the full forward position.

For McAnallen the final will be just his second start of a season hampered by injury and suspension, and his inclusion is one of three changes from the semi-final win over Fermanagh.

John Devine takes his turn in goal for the defending league champions, taking over from Pascal McConnell on a rotational basis, while Brian McGuigan, who missed the last two games with an Achilles injury, is fit again and replaces Gerard Cavlan at centre forward. Unsurprisingly, the defence remains unchanged, having conceded just one goal in eight NFL games to date. Up front, there’s one positional switch, with Brian Dooher moving from the corner to right half forward in a straight swap with Enda McGinley.

Manager Mickey Harte admitted he found it difficult to resist the selection of McGuigan and McAnallen once they became available again.

“Brian has played number 11 all season until he got injured. You could say he owned the position, and when he became fit again he would take some moving, so he’s got it back again,” said Harte. “Cormac has been a great leader, and but for injury and suspension he would have been a regular this season. And with championship looming it’s important that he gets involved.”

TYRONE (v Laois): J. Devine; R. McMenamin, C. Holmes, M. McGee; C. Gormley, G. Devlin, P. Jordan; C. McAnallen, S. Cavanagh; B. Dooher, B. McGuigan, S. O’Neill; E. McGinley, P. Canavan, O. Mulligan.

LAOIS (v Tyrone): F.Byron; T. Kelly, C. Byrne, J. Higgins; D. Rooney, K. Fitzpatrick, D. Conroy; P. Clancy, N. Garvan; C. Parkinson, I. Fitzgerald, M. Lawlor; B. McDonald, D. Delaney, S. Kelly.

* Both League finals will be all-ticket. Tickets are currently available from the competing County Boards, on GAA.ie (booking charge applies), from Ticketmaster phone Sales on 0818 719300 (booking charge applies) and from Ticketmaster outlets.

They will also be on sale from the ticket office in Croke Park tomorrow, Friday and Saturday (11am to 6pm), with adult stand tickets priced at €20, Hill 16 at €15, students and OAP’s €5 and U16’s admitted free when in possession of a valid juvenile ticket.

Match day ticket sales will be from ticket outlets on Drumcondra Road (opposite Quinn’s Pub) and on Mountjoy Square at the junction with Fitzgibbon St. The Division 2 Finals will take place at 2pm on both days with the Division 1 finals getting underway at 3.45pm.

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