Brendan Coulter: hoping to deliver up front for Down
O'Rourke eyes slice of glory for Down
By JOHN CAMPBELL
By JOHN CAMPBELL
DOWN'S sizeable following have had to exercise patience in considerable quantities in a desire to see their team become a major force in Ulster football.
In this respect, they have already shipped another disappointment following that one-point defeat by Donegal on Sunday week last.
Now the Mourne side launch a rehabilitation process against Sligo tomorrow at Markievicz Park (7pm) with manager Paddy O'Rourke under increased pressure to ensure they travel a significant distance in the qualifiers.
It's O'Rourke's fourth year in charge and although he has brought the side close to provincial glory, he has yet to deliver silverware.
For a county that won two All Ireland titles in the early 90's - O'Rourke himself skippered the all-conquoring '91 side - the recent trophy famine is hard to accept.
But O'Rourke is only as good as the players he has at his disposal and in this regard some of them have not been producing the goods.
Tomorrow they get an opportunity to rekindle the faith of their fans and thrust themselves into the spotlight again.
Sligo pushed Galway all the way in a rivetting Connacht championship tie but will be without a couple of key players and this could provide a window of opportunity for their visitors.
O'Rourke will look for a more convincing performance from his midfield where Dan Gordon and Ambrose Rogers are expected to shoulder responsibility while skipper Benny Coulter, Michael Walsh and Eoin McCartan - if the latter is selected - will require to offer rather more than they did against Donegal although to be fair the quality of ball delivered into the attack in that game left something to be desired.
Down's rearguard was punctured too often by the pace of a largely untried Donegal attack and given that Sligo have a couple of wily old hands up front, they will need to be on their guard from the outset.