Down aim to win Sunday's Ulster Championship semi-final to give injured pair Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon the chance to play in another Ulster final.
The duo are survivors of Down's last Ulster final appearance in 2003 against Tyrone, which they lost after a replay.
Down face Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds knowing a win takes them closer to a first provincial title since 1994.
"Those boys have put in an incredible effort for Down for years for little or no reward," said Kevin McKernan.
Most of the Down players, including 2010 All Star defender McKernan, have never played in an Ulster final even though they appeared in the All-Ireland final two years ago.
Gordon and Coulter missed the first round win over Fermanagh with foot and ankle injuries respectively. They are back in light jogging and there is some speculation that Coulter may feature as a sub on Sunday.
It is expected both men would be in contention to start the final against Tyrone or Donegal, if the team can beat Monaghan.
McKernan admitted: ''it would be brilliant to get to the Ulster final, and maybe even go on to win silverware, for those boys".
''The guts of the team is 24, 25 years of age and it's something the boys are really, really motivated to do."
Aidan Brannigan sits out the game with a one-game suspension, but he too would be available for the decider on 22 July.