Johnston brothers ruled out of Down Championship plans

Down's Ryan Johnston in action against Stephen O'Neill
Down's attacking options will be limited by the absence of brothers Ryan (pictured right) and Jerome Johnston

Down have suffered a blow with the news that brothers Ryan and Jerome Johnston have been ruled out of their county's Ulster SFC opener against Monaghan.

The Kilcoo pair both underwent surgery on dislocated shoulders in March and are out of the provincial quarter-final with the champions at Clones on 5 June.

No indication has yet been given of a return date for the injured pair.

Meanwhile Niall Madine has informed Down boss Eamonn Burns that he is opting out of the Mourne panel.

Madine, who has been a Championship regular for Down in recent seasons, has decided to travel to America in June.

The Saval forward only made two substitute appearances, against Donegal and Roscommon, in the Mournemen's Football League campaign, which saw them lose every game in being relegated from Division One.

Last month, Rostrevor's Caolan Mooney informed Burns that he was quitting the county panel.

In a boost to his defensive options, Burns is soon expected to be able to call upon the experienced Benny McArdle, who has been sidelined since rupturing his Achilles tendon last summer.