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Down boss McCartan positive despite lengthening injury list

By Declan Bogue

When you have Brendan McVeigh, Dan Gordon, Ambrose Rogers, Danny Hughes all out through injury, you don't need to lose any more players.

Yet Down did last Thursday night at training when Darren O'Hagan pulled up with a hamstring twinge. The same fate befell Paul McComiskey and it's hard not to have sympathy for manager James McCartan as he is down to the bare bones of a panel.

On O'Hagan, he stated, “We would be really disappointed to lose him because he is a key man to how we are trying to play. Benny McArdle finished the game on one leg there.

“I see Peter Harte got man of the match but to be honest I thought Benny did a decent enough job on him with what he had.”

The original thought was that Conor Garvey was back from his own injury when he replaced the very impressive Ryan Mallon with 20 minutes to go, but it wasn't the simple, explained McCartan.

“We were rolling the dice there. He (Garvey) hasn't trained and it was a case of ‘do I risk him tonight and lose him for next week?' But I am delighted he got on the field and came off unscathed.”

For a moment, it looked as if Down may have got some leeway with Joe McMahon's dismissal, but, “By that stage, we had injured men on the field so the extra man was negated,” believes McCartan.

“Look, I will try and concentrate on the positives,” he elaborated.

“There was a lot of new blood in the team and for long periods of the game we looked very dangerous.

“We would be disappointed that we were weren't further in front at half-time.

“I thought we missed a few simple scores, but Tyrone are a quality team.

“They kept coming and look, we are disappointed to lose at home but that's it, we have to pick ourselves up very quickly because we have to go to Donegal next weekend.”


GAA officials are unlikely to budge on the starting time of Sunday's Kerry-Dublin league showdown, despite local fears that it could result in a poor crowd due to a clash with the big rugby match between Ireland and England.

The throw-in time of 2pm for the showpiece Allianz football league game at Fitzgerald Stadium causes a dilemma for fans also wishing to take in the Six Nations encounter, which kicks off at 3pm.

And with Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice involved in Finuge's All-Ireland intermediate club final at Croke Park on Saturday night, the Kingdom are content to give their new boss as much time as possible to get home and prepare for what has now become a huge match for his team in the wake of their crushing defeat to Mayo.

Meanwhile, former Roscommon player Paul Earley has been appointed as the new Irish International Rules manager.

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