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All Ireland Football Championship: History can repeat itself for Down, says Morgan

By Micheal McGeary

Ray Morgan played football for Down, but he’s best remembered as the man with the Midas touch when it came to winning All-Ireland club titles.

Titles of any description were a scarce commodity in the 70s and 80s. But the Newry man, who taught for over 30 years in St Colman’s College, defied the odds.

Twice in the 80s — 1986 and 1988 — he guided Burren to All-Ireland club glory. Two of the players, Paddy O’Rourke and Brendan McKernan, would enjoy All-Ireland success with Down only a matter of years later.

”They were a very special group of players and while both Paddy O’Rourke and Brendan McKernan won All Ireland glory with the county in 1991 John (Shorty) Treanor was very unfortunate to miss out,” he sid.

“Shorty was a fantastic club player and was worth at least a place in the squad.”

Down’s phoenix-like rise from the wilderness has taken most observers by surprise, but Morgan, the wily old fox, is quick to draw a parallel with 2010 and 1991.

“When Down played Armagh in Newry in the opening round of the championship in 1991 Down won, but you wouldn’t have imagined them going much further,” he said.

“They then drew with Derry, won the replay and never looked back.

“This year they didn’t exactly set the world alight against Donegal and while they played well against Tyrone in the early stages of the Ulster semi-final they fell away on the re-start.

“But again they were able to respond and safely negotiated the qualifiers.

“James McCartan has always struck as me as a very creative and inventive player and that’s reflected in the way his team plays.

“The game of football today is completely different from the way the game was played 10 years ago. It’s become far too much like basketball.

“The whole emphasis now is on retaining possession whereas in previous years there was a greater emphasis on getting the ball forward.”

Morgan, whose name for over three decades was synonymous with MacRory and Hogan Cup success, can see the Mournemen being crowned All Ireland champions but warns that Cork have still to play to their full potential.

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