Monan in plea for his troops to stun Kerry
Down manager Gerard Monan is urging his side to fly the flag for Ulster in style against Kerry in today's Christy Ring Hurling Cup final at Croke Park.
Monan has watched his side chart an impressive entry into the final and now wants the team to scale a new peak in terms of performance.
"Croke Park is where every team wants to play, and now that we are getting this chance, we want to make the most of it," says Monan, "We see ourselves as representing Ulster, and that provides an extra spur in our bid for success. We know that Kerry have been very consistent this year and we must be on top of our game."
Monan feels that the team's semi-final replay win over Meath last Saturday will stand to them in the context of tomorrow's Headquarters showdown.
"It provided us with an extra match," he points out. "While training is essential, matches tell you where you are at and we know now the areas that we must focus on if we are to win tomorrow in what is our biggest match of the year so far."
Paul Braniff, Gareth Johnston, Danny Toner, and James Coyle will be in the vanguard of Down's bid to win the second most important trophy on offer in the overall All-Ireland Championship series.
Braniff has been a rich source of scores to date this year, while Johnston brings a depth of experience to the table and Coyle is an elusive forward with a deft scoring touch.
Fintan Conway and Conor Woods will be central planks in a Down defence that must seek to contain a Kerry attack which is capable of mounting explosive scoring bursts.
Brendan Brosnan, Willie O'Dwyer, Darren Dineen and Brendan O'Leary are likely to lead Kerry's assault on the trophy.
In the Nicky Rackard Cup final, Donegal will face Roscommon also at Croke Park, and the north-west side face a difficult task against the Connacht outfit who have shown considerable stamina and scoring prowess in the competition to date.