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Conor Laverty can highlight wealth of talent in Down

By John Campbell

Whoever is appointed as Down's new manager will have to plan for 2016 without the benefit of dissecting first-hand what is a particularly appetising county championship quarter-final bill.

In recent years, Peter McGrath (Fermanagh) and Frank Fitzsimmons (Antrim) have been among managers who have not had the opportunity to run the rule over resources in their respective county championships because of their deferred appointments and now Jim McCorry's successor in Down will have to forgo a similar chance.

With some of Down's finest players set to flex their muscles this weekend, the contention that there is still talent within the county will be put to the test.

And nowhere is this more likely to pertain than in tomorrow night's mouth-watering meeting between reigning champions Kilcoo and former kingpins Burren in a match that surpasses many inter-county fixtures on the twin scores of rivalry and appeal.

Down county board spokesman Paul Rooney suggests that of the four quarter-finals, this particular meeting could prove a defining element in determining just who might win the title.

"Our county championship has reached great heights in recent years and the quarter-finals have now thrown up the kind of matches that will find favour with everyone," pointed out Rooney.

"There are a lot of good players in Down and although we are still awaiting the appointment of a new football boss, people will see for themselves between now and next Monday the depth of talent within the county."

Kilcoo, now under the baton of Paul McIver, will be bidding for their fifth title in six years while Burren are aiming to recapture the glory that was theirs in the '80s and '90s.

Conor Laverty, Paul Devlin and Paul Green are big guns in the Kilcoo side while Kevin McKernan and Donal O'Hare will be in the vanguard of Burren's bid to come good again.

Also tomorrow night, Warrenpoint will take on Castlewellan with the seaside outfit determined to impress. In Ross McGarry and Ryan Boyle they have players who can set the tone.

On Sunday, Mayobridge, the major force in Down football through much of the Noughties, will take on surprise packet Liatroim. Mayobridge have seasoned campaigners such as Conor Garvey and Benny Coulter in their line-up and they could prove instrumental.

On Monday, Rostrevor confront Ballyholland in a meeting between two sides which have punched above their weight.

Ballyholland's win over fancied Clonduff last weekend puts them in the driving seat.

Belfast Telegraph


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