Down spirits lifted by weekend of club joy
Down officials have had to probe deeply of late to discern any possible ray of sunshine that might have infiltrated the gloom enveloping their county.
A championship season that provided little in the way of comfort was followed by an Ulster club series which saw Mourne representatives Kilcoo despatched at the first hurdle by Monaghan champions Clontibret.
And with the hurlers having only survived in the Christy Ring Cup courtesy of a relegation play-off win over Armagh, the search for crumbs of comfort became even more difficult.
But within the space of 24 hours at the weekend the clouds lifted and a spirit of optimism finally wafted in the Down air.
Portaferry's stunning victory over red-hot favourites Cushendall in the Ulster club hurling final was complemented by wins for Warrenpoint and Drumaness in the provincial Intermediate and Junior club football championships respectively.
And not to be outdone the fairer sex provided their ration of comfort when Niamah Mallon (camogie) and Kyla Trainor (ladies football) were among the nominees for awards at the Ulster GAA Writers' Association banquet following Down's triumphs in the All-Ireland Ladies Junior football final and the All-Ireland Premier Junior camogie final.
"It was a great weekend for the county by any standards," enthuses county board spokesman Paul Rooney.
"Obviously Portaferry's win came out of the blue while the fact that we now have Warrenpoint and Drumaness in the semi-finals of their respective Ulster championships is a terrific boost.
"I think that there is a desire to see real success come to Down and people are prepared to put their shoulder to the wheel in order to see this achieved."