O’Donovan and Kelly given Cork vote of confidence

TEAK-TOUGH Bishopstown back Noel O’Donovan and stylish Ballincollig winger Patrick Kelly have been drafted into the Cork team to play Meath in the opening round of the Allianz National Football League at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

O’Donovan, winner of an All-Ireland minor medal in 2000, is named at full-back, with Kelly taking over the left half forward position.

Both figured prominently in Cork’s recent McGrath Cup winning team and their selections will come as no surprise.

There is no member of the Nemo Rangers county championship winning team involved with Derek Kavanagh, Sean O’Brien and James Masters being held under wraps following a gruelling season.

Former All Star Nicolas Murphy is also held in reserve.

The team will again be captained from the centre back position by Graham Canty, with Alan O’Connor and Pearse O’Neill forming the midfield partnership and Fintan Goold named leader of attack.

Donegal manager John Joe Doherty is sticking with the team that won the Dr McKenna Cup last weekend for the opening NFL Division One fixture against Kerry in Tralee this Sunday.

The north-westerners defeated a lively Queens side 2-12 to 0-11 after extra-time to win their first Dr McKenna Cup since 1991and Doherty, who succeeded Brian McIver in November, has kept faith with the side.

Without players like Karl Lacey, who is travelling in the southern hemisphere at present, Doherty’s hands are further tied with a lengthy injury list. Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy, Michael Hegarty, Brian Roper, Barry Dunnion and Neil McGee are all out of the opener. Christy Toye, Kevin Cassidy and Michael Hegarty are also expected to return to training in the coming weeks.

In their stead, Donegal were well served in the Dr McKenna Cup by young forwards like Stephen Griffin and David Walsh, as well as the returning Raymond Sweeney and Brendan Boyle. Rory Kavanagh, despite being yellow carded in Omagh last week and not allowed to pick up the cup as a result, will captain the team.

Brian Roper, who missed the final three games in the Dr McKenna cup after picking up a hamstring injury against Fermanagh, will make the trip and is therefore in with a chance of beating 1992 All-Ireland winning full-back Matt Gallagher’s record 147 outings from the county.

Also on the panel is goalkeeper Michael Boyle, who kept goal for DCU on their way to the O’Byrne Cup final in Leinster.

Sligo introduce three newcomers for Sunday’s division four game against Kilkenny at Markievicz Park. New Yeats county boss Kevin Walsh gives debuts to midfielder Eugene Mullen from the Easkey club, right half-forward Gary Gaughan (Tourlestrane) and Calry/St Joseph’s clubman Keith Raymond who comes in at full forward.

Clare will have five League debutants in their side for their opening game against Carlow at Dr Cullen Park on Sunday.

Receiving their call up papers are corner backs Martin McMahon and Tomás Maddigan, wing backs Gary Kelly and Liam Markin and centre forward Paul Reidy.

CORK (SF v Meath): A Quirke; M Shields, N O’Donovan, A Lynch; N O’Leary, G Canty, J Miskella; A O’Connor, P O’Neill; C McCarthy, F Goold, P Kelly; D Goulding, M Cussen, D O’Connor.

DONEGAL (SF v Kerry): P Durcan; F McGlynn, R Sweeney, P McDaid; C Byrne, B Monaghan, E McGee; N Gallagher, B Boyle; C Bonner, C Dunne, R Kavanagh; K McMenamin, S Griffin, D Walsh.

SLIGO (SF v Kilkenny): P Greene; C Harrison, N Maguire, B Phillips; J Davey, M McNamara, P McGovern; E Mullen, S Davey; G Gaughan, E O’Hara, K Sweeney; D McTernan, K Raymond, A Marron.

CLARE (SF v Carlow): J Hayes; M McMahon, C Whelan, T Maddigan; G Kelly, K Dilleen, L Markham; F O’Dea, P O’Dwyer; D Russell, P Reidy, S Collins; M O’Shea, G Brennan, D Turbridy.

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