Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

McCartan left to hope kids will be alright

DOWN manager James McCartan will go for broke in a desperate bid to keep his side in Division One of the Allianz Football League.

With buoyant Kildare the visitors to Park Esler, Newry in the last round of scheduled fixtures, McCartan may have to rely on a ration of inexperience now that Paul McComiskey, Darren O'Hagan and Arthur McConville are thought to be out of his selection frame while injury doubts surround Aidan Carr and Daniel McCartan.

"There is not much we can do except go with what we have," concedes McCartan.

"To lose players at this stage of the year with our fight for survival in the league and the Ulster championship looming is particularly disappointing but we must get on with it."

Over the past year McCartan has been forced to shoulder an inordinate number of setbacks triggered by injuries, emigration, retirements and the lure of Australian Rules.

Already denied a generous ration of experience prior to the revelation that this latest trio is about to defect, McCartan will be forced to reconstruct his side for the visit of Kieran McGeeney's outfit who have already booked their place in the semi-finals.

Deprived of luck in their opening league game against Tyrone and then succumbing to Cork when Ciaran Sheehan's last-second shot found the Mourne net, Down have battled huge odds to date but now the chips appear to be stacked even higher against them.

In their most recent outing against Dublin, the Down defence conceded too much in the second-half even though the deadly accurate Bernard Brogan was absent from the metropolitan team's attack.

While the Turleys, Peter and Damien, Owen Costello, Keith Quinn, Ryan Mallon and Ryan Kelly now likely to come into contention for starting places against the Lily Whites, Down will miss the physicality, guile and staying power that their more familiar names can bring to the table.

County board chairman Seamus Walsh confirms that the loss of Paul McComiskey is a particularly savage blow.

"This is a big setback to us as Paul had been showing good form," admits Dundrum clubman Walsh.

"Obviously our resources will now be further depleted for the Kildare game.

"They are already in the semi-finals of course but we know they will come to us seeking a result to maintain their momentum, especially as there is strong competition for places in their line-up.

"To lose players at any time is always disappointing but to be hit by a potential triple blow at a time like this is devastating.

"It is well known that we have been without four of our most experienced players for the entire league campaign and obviously that has been a handicap.

"Now this latest setback is very difficult to shoulder but we must step up to the challenge."

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