Marksman O'Hare has given Down belief for road ahead
Down's ace marksman Donal O'Hare is preparing for one of the biggest challenges of his sporting career to date.
The Burren clubman has been his county's top scorer in recent times but he enjoyed only limited game time in the recent Allianz League in which Down suffered relegation to Division Two.
Yet it was O'Hare who provided manager Eamonn Burns with a measure of encouragement in advance of the Ulster Championship by scoring 1-5 against Mayo.
Indeed, O'Hare scored the only two goals the team landed in the competition as he also found the net against Dublin.
It was in losing to Mayo by 1-19 to 1-16 that O'Hare and his colleagues in attack offered Burns fresh hope for the forthcoming Championship showdown with title holders Monaghan.
Burns has already come to terms that he will be without forwards of the calibre of the Johnston brothers Ryan and Jerome along with Niall Madine and Caolan Mooney but he is optimistic that his attack can trouble Monaghan.
"We know we are going into the lion's den. Monaghan are Ulster champions and will want to keep their title but we are looking forward to it," declared Burns.
When the sides met in the league, Monaghan won by just two points on a day when Down did not enjoy a rub of the green.
But Burns prefers to dwell on the progress which he feels a number of players have made since being drafted into the side.
Gerard McGovern, Mark McKay, Henry Brown, Joe Murphy, Sean Dornan and indeed Barry O'Hagan were virtual unknowns but Burns believes their experience will stand them in good stead in the Ulster series.
"Our game against Monaghan will be different to our league meeting. The atmosphere will be electric, the tempo will be upped and we know that it will be a different Monaghan that we are going to face," added Burns.