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McCartan taking nothing for granted

By John Campbell

The feelgood factor has permeated Down football to such an extent that fans are already discussing just how their side will fare in Division One of the National Football League next season - and this worries manager James McCartan.

His team may be three points ahead of Armagh, Donegal, Kildare and Meath all of whom are locked on six points in Division Two but McCartan is taking nothing for granted.

Not even the fact that his buoyant outfit are ranked as cast-iron certainties to send pointless Westmeath tumbling into Division Three on Sunday persuades McCartan that promotion is assured.

“Ireland were thought to be sure things for the Triple Crown last Saturday, weren’t they?” queries McCartan.

“I am certainly not going to become embroiled in predictions and then maybe have to eat my words. Other people may have to eat theirs but that would be a matter for them.”

Having dropped just one point in five outings, Down are enjoying one of their best spells of recent years. Success is now evident at all levels particularly in the schools sector with the BT MacRory Cup the latest trophy to arrive in the Mourne county.

But while promotion in the National League is viewed as an early-season bonus the deep-seated yearning for championship success continues to underpin manager McCartan’s bid to assemble what he believes will be the best team possible from his present resources.

“It’s not what happens now that really counts but what happens further down the line. My focus is on building a team that will do well in the Championship but if promotion in the National League is confirmed then we will take it just the same. We would welcome the chance to join the big boys but we are still building,” maintains McCartan.

Martin Clarke and Conor Laverty are expected to be fit to face Westmeath having picked up injuries against Armagh and McCartan remains hopeful too that players like Aidan Carr, Dan Gordon and Liam Doyle who are out for various reasons now will return to the panel in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke may amend his side for Sunday’s home game against Tipperary following that defeat by Down last weekend.

Tipperary have taken three points from their last three games and now O’Rourke is hoping that his Orchard County side can return to winning form at their expense in Crossmaglen.

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