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Down manager James McCartan willing to wait for Danny Hughes to reach a decision on his career

By john campbell

Down manager James McCartan is still exercising patience as he awaits a decision from long-serving forward Danny Hughes in relation to his future with the county.

The Saval clubman missed Down's championship campaign last year through injury and his absence from the Down attack was keenly felt.

McCartan is still hopeful that the vastly-experienced Hughes will commit himself for at least one more season to the county cause.

With Benny Coulter having already confirmed that he will don the Down jersey once again, McCartan is aware that the presence of Hughes alongside him would add considerable bite to the attack.

While both players will be missing for tomorrow's Power NI Dr McKenna Cup tie against Cavan, the Down boss feels that some of his new players can make their pitch for regular places in the side.

Shane Harrison, Michael Lively, Gary McArdle, Conleth O'Hare and Liam Devlin are among those who look capable of acclimatising to county football but as McCartan points out, it's early days yet.

"While we had a comfortable win over UUJ last weekend, Cavan will be a different kettle of fish particularly after their win over Antrim," said McCartan.

"I suspect that the Breffni fans might be out in some numbers for this one."

He views the McKenna Cup competition as extremely important since he is anxious to build a team that can make a big bid to get up into Division One after their demotion along with Donegal last year.

"The fact of the matter of course is that right now we are far away from league and championship pace," concedes McCartan with typical candour.

Cavan manager Terry Hyland has introduced a more varied training routine and the initial response of his players has been "most encouraging".

His team created quite a stir in the All-Ireland series last year when they reached the quarter-finals only to fall to Kerry.

Last weekend, despite being hit by flu, which may still affect them this week, Cavan got off to a flying start, banging 3-12 past Antrim, with David Givney deputising for Martin Dunne at full-forward.

Cavan boss Hyland believes that the introduction of the black card rule will lead to more running football and his team certainly showed last year that when they go forward they can carry a big threat.

"We got three goals against Antrim last week but we may not be so fortunate tomorrow. Down are likely to be set up in such a way that we will have to exercise patience in seeking our scores," adds Hyland.

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