Blend of old and new for Armagh

Armagh will have a blend of old and new on show when they begin their Ulster SFC title defence against league champions Donegal on Sunday at Ballybofey throw-in 4pm.

Armagh will have a blend of old and new on show when they begin their Ulster SFC title defence against league champions Donegal on Sunday at Ballybofey throw-in 4pm.

Armagh manager Joe Kernan has opted to bring in veteran Diarmuid Marsden at full-forward for the televised clash.

The 33-year-old Marsden, who retired from inter-county football in 2005, has returned to the fold this season and joins Stephen McDonnell and Oisin McConville, two fellow 2002 All-Ireland winners, in the full-forward line.

Sunday's game will be Marsden's first championship outing since the Orchard county's surprise All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Fermanagh in 2004.

Kernan has handed championship debuts to Brendan Donaghy, who takes over from the injured Francie Bellew at full-back, and Kieran Toner, who will partner captain Paul McGrane at midfield this weekend.

Toner's inclusion means former skipper Kieran McGeeney can revert back to his regular role at centre back.

Injuries are currently keeping Ronan Clarke, JP Donnelly and Brian Mallon out of the Armagh side.

This is the sixth successive year that Armagh have met Donegal in the Ulster championship, with the Orchard county having won five of those games and drawn the one.

Donegal, who lost last year's Ulster final to Kernan's men, have not beaten Armagh in the championship since 1993.

ARMAGH (SFC v Donegal) - P Hearty; E McNulty, B Donaghy, A Mallon; A Kernan, K McGeeney, C McKeever; K Toner, P McGrane (capt); P McKeever, S Kernan, M O'Rourke; S McDonnell, D Marsden, O McConville.

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