Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

All Ireland Football Championship: Down captain Ambrose Rogers desperate to make Croke Park final

Down's Ambrose Rogers
Down's Ambrose Rogers

Down player Ronan Murtagh opens his new fitness centre in Newry today — and one of his first customers will be his captain Ambrose Rogers.

Murtagh, who has come on as a substitute for Down in their last four matches in the All Ireland Championship and scored in every one of them, believes he can help Rogers recover even more rapidly from the ligament injury that has been troubling him since the quarter-final win over Kerry.

“I have installed a special cryotherapy bath which is specifically designed to hasten the healing of sports-related injuries and I would hope that Ambrose will benefit from this,” says Murtagh.

Having missed the semi-final victory over Kildare, Rogers is desperately keen to lead the side out against Cork in the All Ireland final on Sunday week.

And entrepreneur Murtagh — he is also a busy bricklaying sub-contractor — believes he can facilitate his skipper in this connection.

“Ambrose has been availing of the chromotherapy bath which Tyrone have of late and obviously that has meant considerable travel,” said Murtagh.

“I will now be able to offer this facility and I would hope that this will help expedite his recovery. It is certainly a recognised means by which injuries of this nature can clear up more quickly.”

Although manager James McCartan has already revealed that he is planning without Rogers in his starting line-up, he is still prepared to keep the door open for the Longstone man.

Even though he himself might not make the starting line-up, given his immense value to date as an impact substitute, Murtagh is prepared to pull out all the stops for the Down captain.

“I have told Ambrose that he can use the bath every day and we all want to see him out on that Croke Park pitch. He has been a huge influence in this Down side over the past couple of years, let’s not forget that,” states Murtagh.

Should Rogers not make the starting 15, then it is more than likely that McCartan will give another vote of confidence to the Kalum King-Peter Fitzpatrick midfield pairing that did so much to help defuse the challenge of Kildare in the last four clash.

King has shown that he is capable of replacing Rogers as the bedrock of the Mourne midfield, but the latter’s experience, aerial ability and scoring power could certainly prove valuable assets against the big, physically imposing Cork side.

Cork boss Conor Counihan has midfield concerns given the rather anaemic performance of Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh in the semi-final win over Dublin — by the end of the game Derek Kavanagh and Nicholas Murphy had been drafted in from the Leesiders’ engine-room.

Murphy has been a cornerstone of the Cork midfield for a decade, but an injury sustained earlier this year has limited his involvement with the side. His vast experience, however, would certainly prove a benefit to his team should the heat come on against Down.

Kavanagh has attained success, not just with Cork but with Nemo Rangers, one of the leading club sides in the country and clearly showed in the closing stages of the semi-final against Dublin that he would covet a starting place against Down.

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