A look at this year's Ulster Senior Football Championship sides

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Defending champions Tyrone manager Mickey Harte at the launch

By Elaine Barr

The Ulster Senior Football Championship gets underway on Saturday 20th May, when Monaghan take on Fermanagh in the first round, with the winner of that one set to face Cavan in the quarter final.

The other last eight ties have been drawn; Donegal v Antrim (21 May), Derry v Tyrone (28 May), Down v Armagh (4 June).

New provincial secretary Brian McAvoy says it promises to be an exciting campaign, starting later this month with an innovation for the footballers.

Here's a quick look at the sides we'll be watching this summer.



The Saffrons are probably better known for their hurling than their football and an unsuccessful league campaign, which saw them relegated to Division Four, won't boost morale.

They recorded a pair of impressive wins against Laois and Sligo in the league campaign, but they face a very different prospect as they travel to Donegal in their quarter final.

Forward Matthew Fitzpatrick will be missed - he's set to miss the game following a retrospective ban imposed after an alleged incident in the league game against Armagh.

They'll be looking to improve on last year by recording a championship win.




Armagh had a fine run in Allianz League Division 3 - just missing out on promotion back to the second tier. The loss of manager Kieran McGeeney could be an important factor.

He is currently appealing a 12-week sideline ban following an alleged incident in last month's Football League game against Antrim.

If his appeal fails, he'll miss the Orchard County's quarter final clash with neighbours Down, and possibly their next game.

Armagh made an early exit in last year's Championship, and will be keen to go one better this year.



Cavan's league performance wasn't enough to keep them in Division One. However, they showed glimpses of their potential with their win over last year's All-Ireland finalists Mayo, as well as draws with Monaghan and league winners Kerry.

If Mattie McGleenan can inspire them to that level of football, they'll be in with a chance of making it past Monaghan/Fermanagh in their quarter final.

They reached the semi-final stage last year where eventual champions Tyrone needed a replay to get past them.

Cavan could be a team to watch.



Derry were another Ulster county who had a disappointing Allianz Football League campaign.

A win over Fermanagh on the final day wasn't enough to keep them in Division Two - a difficult pill to swallow for the side who were so recently in the Division One Final.

The Oak Leafers have a tough task, as they face a Tyrone side who will be keen to get back to winning ways after a disappointing end to their own League campaign.

Damian Barton's side were soundly beaten in the same fixture last year and will be hoping the recent run of the Slaughtneil contingent will spur them on this time.



Rory Gallagher's side will be buoyed by their League form which saw them narrowly miss the Division One final.

The O'Donnell County are probably tired of hearing that they are in transition; and a good Championship run could put an end to that talk.

A win over Antrim in their quarter final could set up a mouth watering semi-final tie -

Donegal lost out to Tyrone in last year's Ulster Final, while this year's draw could see them meet one stage earlier.

Their six point win over the Red Hands in the league will further boost their confidence.





The Mourne County had a terrible 2016, with no senior inter county wins.

2017 is much improved, with wins in McKenna Cup and league under their belts, Eamon Burns' side should go into their derby game with Armagh with renewed confidence.

Kieran McGeeney is set to be missing off the sideline for the Orchard County which could prove to be an important factor.

Both sides suffered heavy defeats in their respective quarter finals last year so will be keen to make it through to the semi-final stage.



There was much disappointment in the Erne County this year as Pete McGrath's side failed to retain their spot in Allianz National League Division 2.

A last minute defeat to Derry in the final round was enough to see them relegated.

They exited the Ulster championship after just one game in 2016, and it's hard to see them get past an in-form Monaghan this year, but if they are unsuccessful, will hope to build some momentum in the All-Ireland qualifiers.





They're one of the few Ulster sides who will be relatively content with their 2017 Allianz National League performance.

They too narrowly missed out on a place in the Division One Final and recorded some impressive results - including wins over Mayo, Kerry and Roscommon.

They made it as far as the semi-finals last year and it took a replay to separate them from Donegal.

They'll be confident of improving on that result in 2017.

They face Fermanagh in the first round.




The defending champions will have a tough job on their hands to retain their crown.

They're on the difficult side of the draw which could see them meet Donegal at the semi-final stage.

It's Mickey Harte's 14th season in charge and he'll be hoping to shake off their poor finish to the Allianz National League, where the Red Hands finished 5th after a blistering start, following on from their McKenna Cup victory.

They take on Derry in their quarter final.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte says the Red Hands are proud champions - and they're determined to retain the title.

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