Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Walsh leaps to defence of Down boss McCartan

Down manager James McCartan shows his disappointment towards the end of the game against Mayo

Down county board chairman Seamus Walsh has mounted a robust defence of manager James McCartan as the fall-out following last Saturday’s All Ireland quarter-final collapse against Mayo continues.

McCartan has been under considerable fire especially as the 3-18 to 2-9 defeat came on the back of a similar drubbing (2-18 to 0-13) by Donegal in the Ulster final.

But Walsh believes that the double All-Ireland winner McCartan has still overseen significant progress in his three-year watch to day.

“I don’t recall any other manager taking Down to Croke Park on eight occasions for important games within a three-year period,” raps Walsh.

“Obviously there is fierce disappointment within the county following that setback on Saturday but for all that we are still in a better place than we were prior to James taking up the reins.”

Walsh cited a lack of real leadership within the side as one of the reasons for their downfall and acknowledges that the manner of the defeat has evoked much soul-searching within a county that has captured the All-Ireland title on five occasions in the past.

“To be brutally honest, maybe we are not as conversant with the darker arts of the game as we should be but then that has never been the Down way,” states Walsh.

“Nonetheless we have to take stock of the direction that gaelic football is taking and it would seem that blocking players’ runs, feigning injury, repeated fouling and delaying tactics are all par for the course nowadays.”

McCartan is currently considering his position and Walsh is clearly angered with the criticism that is being levelled at the manager.

“James McCartan has been doing a fine job and while those defeats against Donegal and Mayo obviously hurt Down pride, the important thing is that we should learn from them and apply those lessons going forward,” adds Walsh.

Meanwhile, the Derry county board is expected to make an announcement in relation John Brennan’s future as football team boss early next week.

An in-depth assessment of the team’s campaign this year was undertaken at Tuesday night’s board meeting when the progress made by the other county teams in all codes and at all levels was also made.

The Derry club championship will start tonight and with a hectic itinerary spanning the next four days, it was decided to defer any announcement until after these games have been completed.

“We would hope to be in a position to make an announcement early in the week in the light of the discussions that took place at the board meeting,” says PRO Chris McCann.

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