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Down manager Jim McCorry sets sights on glory

By John Campbell

Down manager Jim McCorry believes that structures are slowly but surely being put in place which could help end a frustrating 20-year Ulster title famine.

He may have yet to face his competitive touchline debut but McCorry is adamant that the resolve to see Down restored as a football power is providing him with early encouragement as he sets out his blueprint for 2015.

Another significant preparatory step was taken yesterday when a Down Select team beat a Club Allstars side by 6-15 to 3-13 at Pairc Esler, Newry - where fresh talent came to the surface.

"Obviously Down is a proud football county and two decades is much too long to have been without success," he maintains.

"I must say I am very impressed with the level of commitment and enthusiasm that the county board have been showing.

"There is a clear yearning for silverware and hopefully we can deliver on this score."

A raft of retirements have already paved the way for new faces to challenge for places and yesterday McCorry heaped praise on a number of players.

"Players like Gerard Collins, Packie Downey and Jerome Johnston were very impressive in the Down Select side and obviously there were guys too on the Allstars team who showed what they can do," points out McCorry.

Conor Laverty's impressive haul of 2-4, Conleth O'Hare's ability to pick off long-range points, Ryan Johnston's opportunism which helped him land 1-2 and Darragh O'Hanlon's work-rate at wing-back provided further evidence for McCorry that Down have rich resources.

The fact that high scoring was recorded in the match suggests that the respective defences were in benevolent mood - a fact duly noted by McCorry.

"The task will be to harness the talent into a winning combination," adds McCorry. "There is a revolving door policy in terms of selection. There were some players whom we approached who were unable to give the level of commitment we sought while there are others who have been nominated by their clubs that we still have to look at.

"At the moment we are working with a 38-strong squad and there may well be some additions and deletions. Obviously, though, we will be working on our defensive strategy."

And he has moved quickly to dispel any notion that Down will 'ease' their way in 2015.

"We are not going out to fulfil fixtures in the McKenna Cup in order to prepare a team. We're going out to win and we will be trying to win every competition," stresses McCorry.

"Obviously there has to be a level of preparation in terms of assessing how players can play in different positions. Our first competitive match is at home against Cavan in early January and it's nice to be facing them at Newry."

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