Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Down living on the edge but fans are asked to join battle

own manager James McCartan remonstrates with sideline official Maurice Deegan during defeat by Dublin
own manager James McCartan remonstrates with sideline official Maurice Deegan during defeat by Dublin

James McCartan had not quite bargained for living on a precipice when he led his Down side into their Allianz Football League Division One programme.

But five defeats from six games have left the Mournemen now hoping for a mathematical miracle that might just help consolidate their top flight survival.

Should the calculators ultimately weigh in their favour, it will perhaps amount to the only real break that Down, currently marooned at the bottom of the table with just two points, will have enjoyed in a campaign that has been blighted by injuries, tarnished by ill-luck and underscored by a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot.

The injury jinx that erased Ambrose Rogers, Daniel Hughes, Liam Doyle and Dan Gordon from the competition altogether also conspired to knock the in-form Aidan Carr and Daniel McCartan out of the reckoning for last Saturday's defeat to Dublin and thus compound manager McCartan's selection worries for Sunday week's must-win home game against Kildare.

The ill-luck perhaps manifested itself most cruelly in the game against Cork at home when, after a vibrant performance illuminated by some sterling individual performances, the Mourne side fell victims to a last-second sucker-punch goal from Ciaran Sheehan.

And the self-inflicted wounds were seldom more in evidence than in the concession of far too much possession to Dublin who were eventually able to transform an embarrassing early deficit into a handsome nine-point victory.

If Down are in imminent danger of losing their coveted Division One status, then Mayo, Donegal and Kerry, all of whom are on four points, are also confronted by the perils of relegation.

Down have beaten Mayo and lost to both Donegal and Kerry so they will hope that if head-to-head battles are taken into account in the final analysis of the survival permutation that their result in Castlebar might offer salvation.

Mathematical calculations aside, Down chairman Seamus Walsh believes that it's time for every true supporter to stand up and be counted.

And that's why he is urging "every man , woman and child" to get along to Pairc Esler on Sunday week in the hope that vociferous backing will help elicit an invaluable two points from Kildare's visit.

"We know that even though Kieran McGeeney has Kildare already in the semi-finals he will want a big performance to keep building their confidence so we have to be up for this one," states the straight-talking Walsh.

"The manner in which we lost to Dublin was disappointing but this Down side is better than that.

"Sure, we are living on the edge but the backing of the Down followers can prove crucial in preventing Kildare from pushing us over that edge.

"It's last chance saloon so we need all hands to the pumps."

lCOUNTY Boards have been warned that that they will be hit in their pockets, or possibly even suffer disqualification, if they make late switches to their local championship fixtures to facilitate their inter-county teams.

Late changes in the scheduling of club championship fixtures, usually due to requests from inter-county managers, are the bane of club players. Several amendments made to the official guide at last weekend's Congress have addressed this issue, and Croke Park now has the power to intervene if counties break the new rules.

Each county's Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) now has the final say on match scheduling within their county.

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