Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

It’s all Hands on deck for a Down encore

Down's Daniel Hughes hopes to maintain his scoring form
Down's Daniel Hughes hopes to maintain his scoring form

When Down overcame Tyrone in the Ulster senior football championship first round replay last summer, the result sent shock waves rippling through the entire country.

The Red Hands, after all, had been hot favourites to triumph in the first meeting between the sides in Omagh and even when a draw ensued in that contest, the Mournemen were deemed to have missed the boat.

But a crucial Benny Coulter goal allied to a towering show of spirit and defiance ultimately helped to take Ross Carr’s side through to a semi-final meeting with eventual champions Armagh.

But when Down and Tyrone renew their rivalry on Sunday next in the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup, championship trappings will be absent at Pairc Esler, Newry.

Tyrone will just have arrived back from their squad holiday in Orlando and manager Mickey Harte will be without the services of a raft of established players for a variety of reasons.

But that will certainly not help to induce any element of complacency into the Down camp, despite their lop-sided victory over St mary’s College last Sunday.

“Everyone knows that Mickey Harte’s avowed aim is to win every match in which his Ty

rone team is engaged and I am sure it will be no different on Sunday. Maybe they will be without some big names but that will not make them any easier to beat. They are All Ireland champions, after all,” insists Carr.

In the win over St Mary’s, several Down players shared in a swashbuckling 3-16 scoring bonanza.

And Carr hopes it will be a case of same again on Sunday against the Red Hands inw hat should be an interesting tie.

“You always know that when you go in against Tyrone it is going to be difficult. While it was encouraging to get that opening win, we know that much, much bigger challenges lie ahead.

“Obviously we have not been able to train collectively for the past couple of months so, like other sides, we might suffer from ring-rustiness but teams that can get up and running quickly are likely to make a bigger impact in the National League, I feel, when it gets under way next month” stresses Carr.

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