Down's Ambrose Rogers on top form after injury hell
When Ambrose Rogers made a tentative return to Down’s colours earlier in the year he did not quite think that he would be spearheading a concerted drive for a semi-final place in the National League.
But should James McCartan’s side get the better of Laois in Portlaoise on Sunday the chances are that they will be in the last four perhaps along with Cork, Kerry and Dublin although Mayo cannot be ruled out of the equation.
Rogers spent over a year out of action through injury and at one stage there were fears that he might not return.
However, not only has the affable Longstone clubman resurrected his career at inter-county level but he has shown he is still capable of helping to provide a platform for success.
Along with Kalum King, Rogers currently forms a strong midfield partnership in a Down side that has still to reach the level of consistency coveted by manager McCartan.
They may have reached the All-Ireland final in 2010 but Down have not won the Ulster title since 1994 and their last National League title arrived in 1983.
No wonder, then, that Rogers is keen to see the Mourne side make a bid for the league crown this time round.
“We are taking things step by step,” says Rogers, a full-time coach with the Down County Board.
“If we could get a win over Laois it might put us into the semi-final frame. It would also offer the chance of at least one more big competitive match in advance of our Ulster Championship clash with Fermanagh.”
Down produced their best performance this year to overcome Dublin but the concession of four goals in defeat to Cork and that surprise setback against Armagh convince McCartan that his team is very much a work in progress.
“We are not looking too far down the line — this weekend’s game is the only thing on our minds,” insists McCartan.
A Down victory is possible — but the input of Rogers will be crucial if this is to be achieved.
Antrim's hopes of making their mark on the Leinster Hurling Championship have been boosted by the return of Loughgiel show-stopper Liam Watson.
Watson's form in helping Loughgiel to their second All-Ireland club title last month was nothing short of sensational.