Down turn to Magic and McGourty

Two of Down's best known hurlers, Brendan McGourty and Gareth 'Magic' Johnson, have made the cut for the Mourne County's Dr. McKenna Cup panel.

Two of Down's best known hurlers, Brendan McGourty and Gareth 'Magic' Johnson, have made the cut for the Mourne County's Dr. McKenna Cup panel.

The duo, who helped Down to victory in last weekend's Down Powerade All-Stars match, could see action on Sunday as Ross Carr's men take on Antrim the Gaelic Life-sponsored McKenna Cup.

In the All-Stars game in Newcastle, the powerfully-built Johnson formed a decent looking midfield partnership with Saval clubman Peter Turley and he will be tried out there over the coming weeks.

McGourty, a former minor footballer, got on as a second half substitute last weekend and will also be given his chance to impress in the McKenna Cup as former player Carr and his selectors have named a decidedly experimental panel for the competition.

Last year's skipper Benny Coulter is a notable absentee, while centre-fielders Dan Gordon and Ambrose Rogers, goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh and former minor star James Colgan are also missing.

Coulter, who played for the Down All-Stars last weekend, may return towards the end of the competition and he is expected to resume as captain for the Mourne men's National League campaign.

Meanwhile, recently recalled goalkeeper Sean McGreevy has been named in the Antrim side for Sunday's clash at Downpatrick (throw-in 2pm).

The veteran net minder, who was previously nominated for an All-Star award, is back in the fold, after retiring from inter-county football two seasons ago. Interestingly, seasoned campaigners such as Tony Scullion, Kevin Brady and Michael Magill are being kept in reserve for the weekend.

County hurler Gavin Bell is being tried out at centre back, O'Donovan Rossa attacker Paul Close will be making his competitive return for the county, while his namesake Ciaran Close, from Erin's Own, will captain the Saffrons from full-forward.

As well as being Carr's first competitive game in charge of Down, the McKenna encounter is Jody Gormley's first test as Antrim boss. Ironically Gormley, who teaches at Abbey CBS in Newry, was in the Down camp this time last year as their trainer.

DOWN PANEL: Bernard Connell (Drumgath), Aidan Burns (Castlewellan), Adrian Carville (Bryansford), Martin Cole (Rostrevor), Darren Cunningham (Saval), Barry Doran (Longstone), Kevin Gracey (Downpatrick), Conor Gribben (Bryansford), Eoin Henry (Warrenpoint), Stephen Kearney (Mitchel's), Brendan Loughran (Shamrocks), Jack Lynch (Drumgath), Padraig Matthews (Clonduff), Ruairi McArdle (Castlewellan), Martin McClean (Kilcoo), Michael McVeigh (Castlewellan), Colin McCrickard (Liatroim), Brendan McGourty (Ballycran), Fintan McGreevy (Castlewellan), Kevin McGuigan (Shamrock's), Colm Murtagh (Glenn), Brendan Rodgers (Mayobridge), Brian Sweeney (St Michael's), Peter Telford (Downpatrick), Stephen Toner (Bryansford), Kevin Duffin (Castlewellan), Declan Rooney (Burren), Peter Turley (Downpatrick), Peter Turley (Saval), Gareth Johnson (Ballygalget).

ANTRIM (McKenna Cup v Down) - Sean McGreevy; Damien Gault, Colin Brady, Lawrence Higgins; Sean McVeigh, Gavin Bell, Niall Ward; Joe Quinn, Darrell Martin; Aiden Gallagher, Michael McCann, Eoin O'Neill; Paul Close, Ciaran Close (capt), Michael Rea.

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