Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Down young guns on glory warpath

Down will go into today’s All Ireland Under 21 football final against Cork in O’Moore Park Portlaoise hoping for a boost ahead of their Ulster championship showdown with Fermanagh in Brewster Park.

Only last month the senior side won promotion to Division Two of the Allianz League.

But then they had the misfortune to lose out to Tipperary in the Division Three decider after extra time.

It wasn’t quite what manager Ross Carr had in in mind, but in fairness he wasn’t playing with the full deck as his Under 21 players were given the night off.

Players the calibre of midfielder Peter Fitzpatrick and ace attacker Paul Comiskey were badly missed.

But now the Under 21 side that captured the Ulster title by beating Armagh has a real chance of taking the cup back across the border.

Cork, always a force at this level, will be without centre half forward Shane McCarthy, sent off in the All Ireland semi final against Dublin.

Down though would be foolish to take any thing for granted for the Rebel county like Down have

some lethal attackers, capable of winning a game single handed.

The standard has been exceptional this season especially in Ulster.

Before a ball was kicked Down, Derry, Tyrone and Armagh were all touted as potential.

The cream always comes to the top and so it was with the Mournemen.

As the weeks progressed so players the calibre of Fitzpatrick, McComiskey, Collie Murney, Michael Magee, Conor Maginn and Jamie O’Reilly emerged as hugely influential figures..

“We’ve studied Cork at some length on the DVD. Dublin were very wasteful in that game shooting something like 16 wides to Cork’s four.

“But Cork were very economical in their shooting and they have real quality players from midfield up. so nothing than our very best will do.” said coach Mickey Linden.

The Mayobridge stalwart is no stranger to success for in addition to winning All Ireland senior medals in 1991 and '1994 he also enjoyed success in the Ulster final 1984.

The sting in the tail is that the Mourne county lost an All Ireland semi final to Cork so victory for Down this afternoon would be so sweet.

“Hopefully we can turn the table on them this time. It won’t be easy, but our boys have worked especially hard since our campaign began,” he added.

It’s nothing less than Linden, Peter McGrath and the team deserve.

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