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Down boss Jim McCorry not comfortable with Blanket defence

By John Campbell

Down manager Jim McCorry believes it will be "terrible" for Gaelic football if blanket defences are resurrected in the year ahead.

McCorry's side encountered a double-sweeper system for the greater part of their Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup defeat to Cavan on Sunday and the tactic makes him fear for the future.

In 2014, there was much greater emphasis on open, attacking play at the highest level with Dublin setting a new benchmark in this respect and even previously defence-preoccupied sides such as Donegal amending their strategy to post much bigger scores.

Now, though, McCorry thinks an early warning may have been flashed that could herald a return to less aesthetic blueprints.

"Against Cavan we came up against a sweeper and a double-sweeper at times while we instead wanted to play open football," states McCorry.

"I think it would be terrible for gaelic football if this is the way it is to be."

While conceding that Cavan had shown greater cohesion than his own side, McCorry is unlikely to deviate from his attacking policy for next Sunday's huge assignment against Monaghan.

"This will be another tough test for us. When we played Louth in a challenge game a matter of days before we met Cavan I thought we showed greater appetite and fluency and we have to get back to this against Monaghan.

"We have a number of players out at the minute but we hope to have them back in the near future," explains McCorry.

Among those hoping to make a return to the Down colours is Martin Clarke who returned home last year following a three-year stint in Australian Rules football.

But he was subsequently overtaken by illness and has yet to reappear in the Down jersey in which he distinguished himself for part of James McCartan's tenure as manager, notably in helping to take the side into the 2010 All-Ireland final in which they lost to Cork by a point

McCorry is confident, though, that Clarke will be back in harness in the foreseeable future.

"When I spoke to Marty after I took over he was keen to come back but then illness intervened.

"I think he is still looking forward to joining up with Down again and we would be very keen to have him on board," says McCorry.

Experienced duo Mark Poland, last year's captain, and Aidan Carr are both on honeymoon at present and their return will undoubtedly give McCorry handsome selection options - something that he would welcome after having been stripped of what he felt were three key players immediately prior to the game against Cavan on Sunday.

"We lost Peter Fitzpatrick, Packie Downey and Peter Turley and we could have done with them. We'll have them back again shortly and that will be a help," adds McCorry.

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