Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Down star Maginn makes case for start against Tipp

Conor Maginn has his sights set on a starting place for Down against Tipperary in next week-end’s All-Ireland round four football qualifier.

The Bryansford clubman came off the bench in the second-half of Sunday’s Ulster final and scored two points but his efforts failed to sustain Down’s challenge in a game which ultimately proved well beyond their reach.

Having also been used as a substitute in the Ulster semi-final win over Monaghan, Maginn clearly relishes the chance of seeing action from the start against Peter Creedon’s buoyant outfit who have chalked up significant back to back wins over Wexford and Antrim, both of whom had been fancied to beat them.

“Obviously competition for places is keen but I would like to be in there from the start if possible.

“Everyone wants to be on board as we are very keen to show we are a better side than we showed in the Ulster final,” observes Maginn.

He has already gained considerable experience with Down but the return of experienced duo Benny Coulter and Liam Doyle to the side for the Ulster decider coupled with the fine form of Donal O’Hare who made his championship debut in the quarter-final win over Fermanagh when he scored 1-1 means that Maginn’s scope for selection has been rather more limited.

Yet the manner in which he swung over his brace of scores against Jim McGuinness’ side, his opener coming with his first touch, underlined his predatory instinct and sure-footedness.

Danny Hughes was one of three substitutes — Maginn and Eoin McCartan being the other two — to land scores against Donegal and could now be challenging for starting places in the game against Tipperary.

There had been a doubt about Hughes leading up to Sunday’s game and manager James McCartan decided not to risk him.

Instead Kalum King was included while Liam Doyle took the place of Eoin McCartan.

King, though, was mainly deployed up front where he made little headway against Donegal’s tight marking and it is now expected that he will resume his midfield partnership with Ambrose Rogers for the clash with Tipperary when Down may adopt a more conventional formation.

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Attendance figures at this year's Ulster football championship were up almost 13 per cent on last year.

They increased by almost 15,000, reaching a total of 124,884 for the eight games.

The sell-out attendance of 34,696 at Sunday's Donegal-Down game was the largest for an Ulster final in three years.

It follows an upward trend of 20 per cent in attendances at Ulster club and McKenna Cup games, and a 15 per cent increase at the Under-21 football championships.

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