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Peter Turley happy to be out of the limelight

By Declan Bogue

There is always something special about Saturday night football in Newry, a town that seems to have an enormous appetite for it, and this weekend could see Down go top of Division Two if they manage to beat struggling Louth in a local skirmish.

Relegated last year after making it to the league semi-finals for the previous two seasons under James McCartan, Down have managed comfortably.

They managed to carve out a draw against Ulster champions Monaghan on the first day out and it appeared they were heading for defeat against local rivals Armagh in what could be the only Friday night game ever, before Mark Poland tipped through the defence and sent Philip McEvoy through to slide the ball home to claim their first league at the Athletic Grounds since the mid-80s.

Still, no matter how they progress with their push for promotion, they are vividly aware that their future opponents in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship – Tyrone – have managed the same sequence of results in the top flight.

"We are happy enough for Tyrone to make headlines by running up big scores against Mayo and other teams, but we are plying our trade, keeping our heads above water," said Down's Peter Turley.

While light shines on Division Two with significantly less wattage than that of Division One, Turley is of a mind to point out that the quality is still extremely high.

"People are tipping Monaghan to go really far this year and they said that Down were poor, but we still drew with them.

"It's a wee bit out of the limelight but we are happy enough, we just want to get the games under our belt and keep our focus."

Should Down go looking for problems to temper that enthusiasm, they might find them in familiar places. Having lost half a team to travelling and other sporting endeavours, they will be without Ryan Mallon shortly, who is travelling to Europe for a work placement.

However, Turley is not interested in making excuses or dampen expectations, instead enthusing about the quality in the squad. Peter Fitzpatrick has re-integrated well with the squad since his return from Australia, and Ambrose Rogers continues to make a recovery from injury.

He also invokes the name of another bright talent when he reveals: "I hear Paul McComiskey is back and whether he is coming back or not I don't know. If he was to come back for us it would be a big, big bonus."

Last year, Down were deprived of Dan Gordon when he broke a bone in his foot, but he has recently resumed training with his club Loughinisland and there is a very real chance he could return for the last few games of the league.

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