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Peter Turley believes Down can make their presence felt at Croke Park

By John Campbell

The notion that Down are not physically powerful enough to win honours will be put to the test at Croke Park this weekend.

Not only have the Ulster and All-Ireland titles proven elusive since 1994 but even modest success has failed to come the way of a county that proved the trailblazers for the province's most iconic feats when the Sam Maguire Cup was captured on three occasions in the 60s.

'If you're good enough, you're big enough' is a philosophy that has been given considerable credence within the GAA in the past but a scientific approach to strength and conditioning in more recent years has tended to consign this theory to the back burner.

For some time now, Down have been regarded as a nimble, lively and inventive side but lacking both the necessary overall height and weight to make their presence felt in the vital close exchanges and create turnovers that can often prove crucial in determining the outcome of games.

Yet in Kevin McKernan, Luke Howard, Arthur McConville, Donal O'Hare, Peter Fitzpatrick, Damian Turley, Brendan McArdle, Caolan Mooney and Peter Turley, Jim McCorry's side could be said to possess some of the best physical specimens that currently grace the Ulster scene.

Not surprisingly, it's to players such as these that McCorry will look to to trigger success over a forceful, combative Roscommon side in Sunday's Division Two final at Croke Park.

The Connacht side have long since learned how best to deploy the skills of towering players such as Ian Kilbride, Cathal Shine, Senan Kilbride, Nially Carty, Neil Collins and Niall Daly and will expect this mini-platoon of power to stifle Down's attacking flair.

The Mournemen's resurgence, though, has not only taken them into Division One already but it has buttressed their confidence.

Midfield giant Peter Turley epitomises Down's approach to their renewal of rivalry with Roscommon when he stresses that the team will be seeking to up their effort in all areas of the pitch.

"When we lost to Meath, we were not as physical as we could have been but we showed when we clinched promotion against Laois that we can meet any challenge," maintains Turley.

"I missed playing in the game against Roscommon earlier in the league but I watched it and you would have to say that they were superb that day.

"They did not miss too much when it came to taking their chances and there is a strong central spine to their side.

"They are a very physical side who put themselves about and this match is going to be a real challenge for us."

If the win over Laois nurtured more relief than ecstasy, then victory over Roscommon on Sunday would provide the perfect aperitif for the forthcoming Ulster Championship in which they will meet Derry in the quarter-finals.

"People might have been saying that Down lack physical power but I think we can now hold our own with the best of them in this respect," said Turley.

"Obviously we will be judged on how we perform against Roscommon in Croke Park."

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