JAMES McCartan has named his starting 15 for Sunday’s Ulster SFC final against Donegal.
Both Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon have returned to the team. Forward Coulter gets his first start since breaking an ankle in April while Gordon is named at centre half-back after recovering from a foot fracture.
Aidan Brannigan returns for the Clones final after serving a ban but Conor Garvey is suspended.
Tullylish man McCartan says Down will have to pick Donegal’s lock if they’re to prevail on Sunday.
The 2012 Ulster SFC final will be a real battle of wits as ‘Wee James’ pits his Down side against one of the most effective defensive systems in the modern game.
But McCartan says the challenge of breaking through blanket defences is nothing new.
“We have experience of what the nature of the beast will be like,” the Mourne County boss said.
“Whether we have the answers on an Ulster final day is a completely different question. We have an idea of how we are going to try and set up and play them.
“Donegal have been playing that way for two years now. We played them earlier in the league and I think eleven players that played in the league could potentially be starting in the Ulster final, even taking for granted championship is completely different from the league.
“We have been challenged. A lot of teams have been putting in place defensive set-ups - the likes of Dublin, Mayo and Laois - guys with different types of systems.
“We’ve had to try and pick the lock and we’ve managed to beat Dublin, Mayo and Laois in the league.
“You’ll get no credit for beating Fermanagh - people will perceive them as a Division Four team. But like any team, they have to be beaten. They had 13 men behind the ball at times and we had to go and try and beat those guys.”
DOWN TEAM TO FACE DONEGAL: 1 Brendan McVeigh; 2 Daniel McCartan; 3 Brendan McArdle; 4 Darren O’Hagan; 5 Daniel Hughes; 6 Dan Gordon; 7 Aidan Brannagan; 8 Ambrose Rodgers; 9 Kevin McKernan; 10 Donal O’Hare; 11 Mark Poland; 12 Aidan Carr; 13 Brendan Coulter; 14 Conor Laverty; 15 Eoin McCartan.