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All Ireland Football Championship: Down players can grasp all the glory, says Mickey Linden

By Micheal McGeary

Mickey Linden is a name synonymous with sporting success in County Down.

The Mayobridge man twice lifted Sam Maguire in the 1990s and collected the 1994 footballer of the year in the process.

Having achieved what most footballers can only dream of, the Down legend believes that the current crop of players donning the red and black (or yellow and black as the case may be) can emulate his achievements.

“I’m sort of quietly confident now because the boys have shown in the last two matches that they’ve real belief in themselves,” he said.

“Cork are a very good, big strong side. Really they haven’t shown what they’re capable of this year.”

Linden, though, believes that James McCartan’s men are a very different team to the one which Linden starred in ’91 and ’94.

“In the 90s we were probably a physically stronger side,” he added. “Down wouldn’t be seen as a big team at the minute, although they have big players in key positions.

“It’s very hard to compare teams over the years. You can’t really compare the 90s teams to the 60s teams so there’s no point in drawing comparisons really.”

Linden was a team-mate of the current Down manager James McCartan during Down’s dominant spell in the 1990s and he believes that ‘wee James’ has the right characteristics to bring success.

“James was a tenacious character when he was playing and he had a fierce belief in himself and I’m sure he’s transferring that through to the players,” he said. “He’s a shrewd wee man as well and he’s quick to see things on the side-line.

“He’s got great experience in management now and he has good men beside him now. I’m sure they work as a team and they’ve done the job so far.”

Linden’s class was undisputed when he played for Down and at 47 years of age he has returned to the game with his local club, Mayobridge. Trailing by four points in the reserve championship the veteran appeared as a second half substitute last week and scored four points before setting up others to eliminate Burren from the Championship.

Belfast Telegraph

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