The decision taken by Down manager James McCartan to deploy Dan Gordon at full-back in last Saturday’s All Ireland football championship second round qualifier win over Longford could prove to be a timely boost to his team’s chances of making real progress in the competition this season.
Gordon, normally a midfielder and sometimes a target man at full-forward, revelled in his new-found role in defence when he largely blotted out the threat of Brian Kavanagh in the Longford attack.
Now McCartan is certain to once again turn to Loughinisland clubman Gordon to curb the efficiency of star Offaly forward Niall McNamee when Down lock horns with the midland outfit in the third round at Tullamore on Saturday.
McNamee scored 1-6 in Offaly’s five-point victory over Waterford last Saturday.
And, indeed, had it not been for this solo show of accuracy Offaly might well have struggled against a Waterford side that has responded well to their promptings of their Down-born manager John Owens this year.
Owens has taken Waterford into Division Three of the National League for the first time and Offaly certainly knew they had been in a match last Saturday.
But now they will come up against a Down side reinvigorated following their own home win over Longford.
Gordon will be a central plank in their defence while James Colgan and Conor Garvey are also likely to lead the resistance against Offaly with manager McCartan hopeful that Martin Clarke can again reveal the creativity that helped to see off Longford last weekend.
“It was good to get that win but Offaly are traditionally sticky opponents at home,” says McCartan.
“We would hope that we can even improve on our display against Longford but we will see how things go.”