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Clarke puzzle as sad Down are crushed

By Declan Bogue

Down manager Eamonn Burns has pledged his team will "keep battling" as they face the All-Ireland football Championship qualifiers draw tomorrow.

The Mournemen were dealt their heaviest-ever defeat in Championship football in losing by 19 points to reigning Ulster champions Monaghan in the Clones quarter-final (2-22 to 0-9).

However, there will be questions asked in the county after 2010 All-Star Martin Clarke, in his role as match analyst for BBCNI, revealed that he had not been asked back onto the Down panel or given a trial.

Clarke had been struggling with his condition of Addison's Disease but appeared to make a recovery this year, featuring prominently for Queen's University in the Dr McKenna Cup.

Given Down's obvious shortcomings in the forward ranks, Clarke's absence will baffle those inside and outside the county. They were the lowest scoring team in all four divisions of this year's National League and have not won a meaningful game in 14 months.

Asked prior to the Championship if they were interested in bringing in any forwards, Burns replied: "Most of our forwards are in reasonably good shape, that's not really a department we're lacking in at the minute."

Monaghan now face the winners of next weekend's quarter-final between Donegal and Fermanagh, to be played in Ballybofey.

Belfast Telegraph


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