Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Down keep the pressure on to reach Under 21 pinnacle

It's little wonder that celebrations were put on hold when Down retained their Cadbury’s Ulster Under 21 football championship at Armagh’s expense on Wednesday night.

Tomorrow, Peter McGrath’s side are due to meet Connacht champions Mayo in the All Ireland semi-final at Longford (5.00).

That certainly does not offer much recovery time to a team which includes several players who have been sampling action in the National League of late as well as having helped to fashion another provincial title.

But Down are nonetheless pressing on with their preparations for their showdown with the western representatives who by all accounts looked impressive in garnering their own provincial accolade.

Down manager Peter McGrath will certainly be hoping that Peter Fitzpatrick can replicate the authority he displayed in midfield against Armagh and at the same time the Mourne boss will be keeping his fingers crossed that Paul McComiskey, Jamie O’Reilly and Conor Poland in particular can continue to flourish in his attack.

McGrath has been assessing some minor knocks picked up in Wednesday’s game but is still hopeful that he will be able to confirm an unchanged line-up.

Mayo, too, are expected to name an unchanged team from that which defeated Sligo in the Connacht final.

Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea and Tom Parsons all came through last Sunday's drawn NFL clash with Tyrone unscathed but Cathal Freeman remains sidelined with a quad muscle injury.

Even should Down they beat Mayo tomorrow, they would then have to meet either Dublin or Cork who clash in the other semi-final at Thurles tomorrow (3.30)

Dublin won the Leinster title when they beat Laois last week-end after a tense battle.

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