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McManus shows level of commitment we need, says Mallon

By Declan Bogue

The commitment of Down corner-back John McManus has been held up as an example by his manager Marty Mallon as to what is required in the Mournemen set-up.

They face London tomorrow in Birmingham in the Christy Ring Cup with slender hopes of reaching a semi-final against Wicklow.

"The commitment he is making is unreal," said Mallon of his Ballygalget defender.

"He is working the nightshift, from half seven at night to half seven the next morning in an engineering company in Greyabbey.

"Then he is getting on a plane, he works weekends. He is going to Birmingham, playing a match, coming straight home and straight into work for the night shift. That's 48 hours without sleep. That's the sort of boys we are after, that's the sort of boys you want.

"It's a big commitment, but he has done it for us in the league this year, and that's the sort of boys we are after. The commitment of some other boys? Bluffing. Telling you they are up the road doing something and they are sitting in the pub wasting your time."

Mallon has generally been disappointed with the effort and commitment of the Down hurlers, 20 years after he captained them to the Ulster title with victory over Antrim in Casement Park.

He said: "We want people who are committed to it. We want people who want to play every week, want to train every week.

"There are eight or 10 boys that left the panel there, they just couldn't commit to it, they couldn't give us what is needed and that's the bottom line. We are happy to get rid of them."

Mallon also confirmed that Caolan Bailie has left the panel after a dispute in the changing room following their heavy defeat to Antrim.

Defensive talisman Conor Woods has claimed there is no chance he will be able to make the team tomorrow, stating: "I am trying to get a bit of fitness, so I will not be playing this weekend. I would love to be playing, but the way I am, if I play I could do more damage."

His manager was holding out more hope however, commenting: "At the minute we are missing Conor Woods. Hopefully he will maybe make it.

"We have Danny Toner back, wee John McManus is back, Christopher Egan is back.

"And that's as good as it gets for us, that's the way it is, we are alright, we are okay."

They face a tall order against a London side that bounced back from a surprising defeat to Wicklow in the first round to thrash Roscommon last weekend.

Mallon is hoping the Exiles underestimate Down.

"We have nothing to lose, that's the main thing and we are going to have a good cut at it," he emphasised.

"They will be taking us lightly, looking into past results and that. They battered Roscommon last weekend and we beat them before that. It's a whole different thing. If Conor Woods is fit, then the whole dynamic changes. We build the whole thing around him."

In the Nicky Rackard Cup, Armagh appear to have got back on track after a shock opening round defeat to Donegal after putting 23 points past Louth last weekend. They face a hapless Longford side that conceded 8-21 to Derry last weekend.

Donegal and Monaghan meet with both sides having lost to Tyrone so far. Donegal's slip was all the more surprising given their win over Armagh the week before.

In the Lory Meagher Cup, Fermanagh could do little to control the phenomenal scoring power of Ronan Crowley of Lancashire in their meeting last week at the Old Bedians Sports Ground in Manchester, leaving them in a difficult spot against Warwickshire - with Liam Watson a talent clearly above this level of hurling - in Brewster Park today.

Cavan, meanwhile, have had a painful experience on their return to inter-county hurling - they have joined the fray once again after opting out in 2011 - as they have been heavily defeated by Warwickshire (20 points) and Leitrim (11 points) so far.

They have Sligo this weekend in Kingspan Breffni Park and the opening round win for the Connacht men over Lancashire still leaves them with some skin in the game.

London

Down

Christy Ring Cup:

Birmingham, Sunday, 1.00 pm

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