Tyrone and Down to do battle in Ulster Championship at Omagh

Mickey Harte
Mickey Harte

The 2014 Ulster GAA Football Championship gets underway tomorrow when Tyrone host Down in a Preliminary Round game at Healy Park, Omagh.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has included two championship debutants - Barry Tierney and Tiernan McCann in defence.

There are six changes from the team that lined out in the last competitive encounter against Dublin. Danny McBride, Barry Tierney, Tiernan McCann, Conor Clarke, Patrick McNeice and Niall McKenna replace Ronan McNamee, Ryan McKenna, Emmet McKenna, Shay McGuigan, Mark Donnelly and Connor McAliskey respectively.

Kyle Coney makes his first-ever Championship start for Tyrone.

“First outing against Down and I suppose the only advantage we have is that it is a home venue for us and that is always important in the championship,” said Harte.

“Down have a great Championship pedigree.

“It doesn’t matter about league form or anything else coming up to this game, Down present a stiff challenge in the Championship to any team.”

Down have included 13 of the side that lost to Laois in the last round of the national league.

Ryan Boyle and Kevin McKernan are included ahead of Owen Costello and Paul Devlin respectively.

“We are seen as underdogs but it is a task we will relish,” said Down boss James McCartan.

“It’s a long time since Down won an Ulster Championship – 1994 – it would be a massive lift to the players and the county as a whole to win it.

“It’s something that we would love to rectify but look, we are playing in the preliminary road and it’s a tough route.

“We will give it a go, we think we are a match for most teams on our day.”

Sunday’s winners will play defending Ulster champions, Monaghan in the quarter-final on June 15.