Conor Laverty: Down just have to strike back in 2015
It's now or never as far as experienced Down forward Conor Laverty is concerned.
As the Mournemen brace themselves for next Sunday's Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup opener against Cavan at Pairc Esler, Newry, Laverty pulls no punches in his assessment of just what will be expected from the side.
"We have a new manager in Jim McCorry and new players in the squad but the fact of the matter is that we have not tasted success with the county and 2015 is the year in which we must do something about this," insists Laverty.
A triple Down championship winner with Kilcoo and regarded as one of the most dynamic forwards in the modern game, Laverty nonetheless concedes that nothing short of outright success with his county will sate his personal appetite.
"The new players will be fighting for their places but it's very important that over the course of this year we all work hard and improve," declared Laverty.
"It's a long time since Down have won an Ulster title but I suppose there is a new bunch of players now and we're starting afresh."
Even though apprehension, gloom even, continues to prevail in Down because of the county team's lack of success, Laverty is convinced that the raft of new young players who have come to the fore lately can change things.
"Listen, there are some fantastic players in Down," said Laverty. "When you look at players like the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan, the impact that Darragh O'Hanlon has been making and the fact that Ross McGarry has been having a great season with Warrenpoint this shows you that the talent is undoubtedly there."
Laverty's pace, vision and shooting skills will undoubtedly be showcased once again and manager McCorry highly rates him.
"Conor is a joy to behold when he is in action," states McCorry, "He brings others into the play in such an intelligent, unselfish manner that this highlights his immense value to the team."