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Down boss McCartan's hungry to break down back door

By John Campbell

Down manager James McCartan is hoping that the All-Ireland qualifiers will provide comfort for his side following their Ulster Championship quarter-final replay loss to Tyrone.

McCartan had hoped the Mourne outfit would end their 20-year title famine this year, but the Red Hands demolished those aspirations leaving Down to seek solace through the back door.

"We don't actually have a bad record in the All-Ireland series overall," points out McCartan.

Having reached the decider in 2010, in which they lost by a point to Cork (0-16 to 0-15), Down reached the fourth round of the qualifiers in 2011, with Cork again proving their nemesis, winning this time by 2-20 to 0-14.

In 2012 the Mournemen reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals, losing 3-18 to 2-9 to Mayo.

"We've come up against the big hitters in the Championship, we have to wait now and see what the draw for the qualifiers holds in store for us," reflects McCartan.

At least Down are spared another clash with Derry, who beat them in the qualifiers last year after McCartan's men had won an earlier Ulster Championship meeting at Celtic Park.

This year Down are on the B side of the qualifier draw with Derry on the A side and while there will be a number of teams in the mix who have competed at very modest levels in the Allianz League this doesn't mean that McCartan's men will have a straightforward passage.

"The qualifiers can be a minefield. I think we are capable of much better form than we showed against Tyrone and hopefully we will get a favourable draw," states McCartan.

On the B side of the draw, Down will be bracketed with Westmeath and Leitrim along with the losers of Clare v Waterford, Wicklow v Louth, Armagh v Cavan, Carlow v Meath and Monaghan v Tyrone.

Derry's defeat to Donegal means they go in along with Wicklow, Offaly, London and the losers of Limerick v Tipperary, Fermanagh v Antrim, Longford v Wexford and Dublin v Laois.

Belfast Telegraph

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