Karl Lacey to make first start of year for Donegal in Ulster final

Tyrone welcome back Stephen O’Neill for qualifier clash with Kildare

 Stephen O’Neill (right) is back to lead the Tyrone full-forward line in their high-profile All-Ireland qualifier against Kildare in Newbridge. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Stephen O’Neill (right) is back to lead the Tyrone full-forward line in their high-profile All-Ireland qualifier against Kildare in Newbridge. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.


Footballer of the year Karl Lacey will make his first start of the year for Donegal in Sunday’s Ulster final against Monaghan. He hasn’t lined out since last year’s All-Ireland final against Mayo although he has appeared as a replacement in the first round against Tyrone before undergoing knee surgery.

Lacey replaces Declan Walsh who started against Down. “It’s a huge lift to us,” manager Jim McGuinness said last night when he revealed the team at a Club Tír Chonaill function in Letterkenny.

“Karl has been working very hard to get his fitness back with the strength and conditioning coaches in Dublin and he has made great strides.”

Centrefielder Neil Gallagher will, however, miss his second successive Ulster final due to strained knee ligaments. A year ago, a chipped bone in his ankle prevented his playing against Down.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte welcomes back captain Stephen O’Neill to the starting line-up for the county’s high-profile qualifier match in Newbridge against Kildare tomorrow.

O’Neill returns at full forward for the first time since the Ulster championship defeat by Donegal at the end of May. He replaces Conor McAliskey in the full forward line. Aidan McCrory comes in at corner back with Joe McMahon switching to wing forward in place of Ciarán McGinley.

Into the match-day panel comes defender Dermot Carlin who has been missing with a broken nose. Kildare have been unbeaten in five years of qualifier matches since the start of manager Kieran McGeeney’s tenure in 2008.

The GAA announced that a small number of tickets had been made available and will go on sale in Super Valu and Centra outlets this morning while availability lasts.

McGeeney has made just one change to the side that beat Louth in last weekend’s qualifiers. Tomás O’Connor, who replaced Paul Cribbin after half an hour and went on the score the crucial goal in the victory, is named to start with Cribbin dropped.

Monaghan have made two changes to the team that defeated narrowly Cavan in the Ulster semi-final for Sunday’s final against Donegal in Clones. Manager Malachy O’Rourke makes both adjustments to his announced half-forward line with Dermot Malone and Paul Finlay coming in for Tommy Freeman and Gavin Doogan to join Stephen Gollogly in the half forward line.

London are unchanged for the county’s first Connacht final since starting to compete in the province in 1975. That means that Mark Gottsche is still not ready to be included. The team captain, who was named Footballer of the Month in recognition of his performance in the historic win over Sligo in the Connacht first round, was injured against Leitrim in the drawn semi-final and had to be replaced.

Armagh name the same side for the qualifier trip to Galway as took part in last week’s annihilation of Leitrim. Galway manager Alan Mulholland however delays until today the announcement of his team in order to assess a few knocks. Most concerns centre on wing forward Mike Farragher.

Meanwhile Derry have made two changes for the visit of Cavan in the qualifiers. Injury to his cruciate has ruled PJ McCloskey out for the rest of the season and his place at centrefield goes to Conor McAtamney, switching from the half forwards where Benny Heron replaces him. The other switch sees Lee Kennedy drop to the bench and Emmett McGuckin comes in at left corner forward. Cavan will name today.