Dan Gordon may have been frustrated when the Down side which he captained this year failed to build on their surprise Ulster Championship first round replay win over Tyrone back in June but he now gets the chance to enjoy a slice of consolation at club level when he bids to fire Loughinisland’s plan to reach the county championship final.
They will meet rejuvenated Burren in Sunday’s semi-final at Pairc Esler, Newry (6pm) conscious that they have a golden opportunity to reach the decider.
But while Gordon is the fulcrum of the side, his experience and power will certainly be required against a Burren outfit that can look to Daniel McCartan, Kevin McKernan, Declan Rooney and James McGovern, among others, to plot their potential route to glory.
“It’s certainly a tough challenge for us but we will be ready. Obviously a number of county players, myself included, will be on duty in this game and we will have to do our bit,” says Gordon who skippered Down to their Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup triumph back in January and was also largely responsible for taking the side to within touching distance of promotion from Division Three of the National Football League.
Burren won All Ireland Club titles in the late 80’s and, while still one of the strongest clubs in Down, they have had to live in the shadow of near neighbours Mayobridge who have been the dominant force of late.
It’s no surprise, of course, that they are in the other semi-final in which they will meet Saval tonight at Pairc Esler (8.30pm).
Benny Coulter and Michael Walsh are still strutting their stuff impressively in the Mayobridge attack while Daniel Hughes (pictured), a prolific marksman for the graeter part of this year with Down, is the ace in the Saval pack.
He should have useful assistance from Stephen Kearney who found himself getting valuable game time for Down over the course of this year - something that will certainly stand him in good stead for next term.
But Mayobridge, packed with experience and garnished with craft, appear to have the more rounded resources.
Ronan Sexton’s versatility and Cathal Magee’s poise are other assets which should also serve them well in this contest.
Saval have certainly been making strides recently and have shown themselves to be a potent force to date, their defence offering a bold front for the most part to thwart opponents.
But the Mayobridge attack will certainly ask big questions of them in what promises to be a lively battle.
Much will depend on how the Saval midfield pairing fare against their Mayobridge counterparts.
Should they manage to get enough of the ball into their attack, then they could upset the applecart but such is the pedigree of Mayobridge that it is hard to see them slipping up on this occasion.