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Burns eyes up a big 2018 after luring Adams into Down set-up

 

By Declan Bogue

Down boss Eamonn Burns is looking forward to 2018 after bringing in a new addition to his coaching staff - former Antrim joint-manager Gearoid Adams.

When asked if the Mournemen prised Adams away from the Saffrons, Burns reminded us of the St John's man's protracted and messy end with his native county.

He pointed out: "We didn't take Gearoid away - Antrim got rid of him!"

Adams has long been forging his reputation as a coach, and will be familiar with many of the Down players from his time with Clonduff.

"Gearoid will obviously bring experience and he knows the game inside out. He has experience as a coach and experience as a player that will stand him in good stead. He's started very positively with us; the boys have gelled with him very quickly," said Burns.

"He's a job to do with us and he knows what the expectations are. These boys will be looking to push on this year and he was made very aware of that at the start and I have to say he's started very positively."

Down recovered last year after a disastrous start to their National League campaign with defeats to Fermanagh and Clare requiring a strong finish on the final day to take points off Cork and avoid relegation to Division Three.

From there, they had a springboard to reach the Ulster final with huge wins over Armagh and Monaghan.

Burns, however, remains philosophical about their mid-season transformation.

"Management is difficult. You get good days and a lot of bad days. The good days are the pleasing days. I wouldn't look back on it and think, 'That was the most poignant moment' or 'That was the turning point'.

"Our players have worked very hard. At times we didn't get results and things went wrong on the field or whatever, but we got a result in Cork which gave us a good platform - that was very important for us."

And Burns rejects the popular notion that Down's history is more of a burden than something to be embraced, offering his first-hand experience as a player who won two All-Irelands in the 1990s.

"I don't think they really think of it," he said of his current squad.

"The last Down team that won an Ulster title, I played on it. A lot of those boys weren't born. It's like me talking about the 1960s team that won the All-Ireland. I knew exactly who the players were but I've no connection with them at all.

"So I don't think it bothers these players at all. It's probably talked about in the media and among the older generation, stuff they hear when they're out and about in their own towns and villages."

A few weeks ago, Kilcoo attacker Jerome Johnston made himself unavailable for 2018, instead opting to travel.

In recent weeks, Mark Poland and Aidan Carr have also hung up their inter-county boots, but their manager can understand their choices.

"We were talking a couple of weeks ago, they are amateur sportsmen in a professional set-up. They have to get up in the morning and go to work, so there's a lot of pressure on them," Burns stated. "To play at county level and compete at a high level places demands on their time.

"Jerome has had a very successful run with Kilcoo and they've had long club seasons. You can understand why you'd want a break - and you have to be receptive to that.

"So he spoke to me about it and laid the whole thing out, and I wished him well. When he's back, he's back."

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