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O'Hagan duo united in quest for a double victory



On mission: Darren O'Hagan is targeting promotion

On mission: Darren O'Hagan is targeting promotion

�INPHO/Matt Mackey

On mission: Darren O'Hagan is targeting promotion

It promises to be quite a hectic weekend for Down captain Darren O'Hagan and his wife Paula.

While Darren is preparing to lead the Mourne County into their opening Allianz Football League Division Three fixture against Tipperary in Clonmel, Paula will be skippering the Clonduff camogie team who will meet Waterford side Gailltir in the semi-final of the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship at Clane.

But then such a weekend will not be an entirely new experience for the couple. Last year, Paula found herself supporting Down while Darren in turn was prominent among the big Clonduff support when the All-Ireland title was captured in a dramatic one-point final win over Gailltir (0-10 to 0-9).

While Paula is naturally hoping that Clonduff can make it back-to-back All-Ireland titles, Darren is particularly keen to see Down get off the mark in Division Three as promotion is very much in their sights in order to escape having to participate in Tier Two of the All-Ireland Championship.

Down endured frustration in the league last year through their inability to achieve consistency and now manager Paddy Tally is urging his side to hit the ground running in the competition.

Darren explained: "Paddy is naturally anxious to see us get off the mark so that we can maybe feature in the promotion race.

"We have some good players coming through and while they will benefit from their experience in the league, it's important that we get wins under our belts.

"While there is always a strong focus on Division One, there is no doubt that the level of competition is being stepped up in the other divisions as well because of the introduction of Tier Two of the All-Ireland Championship.

"Every team wants to compete in the Championship proper and we are no different. Down is still a proud football county and Kilcoo underlined this by getting into the All-Ireland Club final last weekend.

"Now it's up to the county team to show what they can do. We know that we have to deliver from the off if at all possible."

And the Clonduff ladies do not intend to let their county down either.

Paula said: "We will be going all out to reach the final. You don't get too many bites at the cherry so when you do you want to make the most of it. It would be great to get another title."

There may be something of a feeling of anti-climax prevalent in Down just now after Kilcoo failed to clinch the All-Ireland Club title but there is nonetheless a palpable desire to see the county remain in the spotlight.

Football team boss Tally certainly means business as he contemplates his team's itinerary.

"It's going to be difficult in Division Three because most teams will feel they can move up," said Tally.

Belfast Telegraph