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We won't take Down threat lightly, insists McGleenan

By John Campbell

Down manager Eamonn Burns is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be able to field a strong team for Saturday's All-Ireland qualifier against Mattie McGleenan's Cavan at Brewster Park, Enniskillen (5pm).

With Darragh O'Hanlon already ruled out and doubts surrounding at least two other players, Burns could yet have to dig deep into his resources for what is a critical game for his side.

Down were relegated to Division Three in the league before beating Antrim in the Ulster Championship, but it was their heavy defeat to Donegal in the provincial semi-final (2-20 to 1-12) which has sown the seeds of discontent within the Mourne County.

The team's inability to match Donegal for passion and intensity in particular left their followers disgruntled and has posed problems for Burns ahead of Saturday's important clash.

Even though his resources could be said to be limited, Burns is understood to be ready to make changes to his line-up.

The defence was particularly porous against Donegal, especially in the opening quarter when the team trailed by 1-8 to nil at one stage before regaining some semblance of their form.

They will come up against a Cavan side that recovered from their loss to Donegal in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship by beating Wicklow in round one of the qualifiers.

Manager McGleenan, though, is taking nothing for granted as he prepares for a renewal of rivalry with a Down side which his team defeated 0-17 to 0-14 in the league.

"Down have a number of quality players in their side including Connaire Harrison, Donal O'Hare, Ryan Johnston, Caolan Mooney and Kevin McKernan," pointed out McGleenan.

"There were only three points separating us in that league game earlier in the year. Down are going to come to Brewster Park knowing that they will be in the game and it's our job to go about our business well.

"The reality at this stage of the season is that it's over and out for the losers, something neither team wants.

"Down were Ulster finalists last year and they will be a huge step up for us after Wicklow, so it will be a great challenge for us."

Meanwhile, there is speculation as to whether Stephen Sheridan will play in Armagh's qualifier tie against Sligo at Markievicz Park on Saturday (6pm).

Sheridan has been absent from the Armagh midfield of late but manager Kieran McGeeney is unlikely to press him back into action.

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