Poacher backs Tally to come up trumps in Down
Steven Poacher may be Turlough O'Brien's right-hand man in Carlow but he remains Down through and through.
The former Ballyholland club boss - he relinquished this role just a few weeks ago - had been in the frame for the Down manager's job but stepped out of the reckoning prior to Paddy Tally's appointment.
And as Tally prepares to take in Sunday's eagerly-awaited senior county championship final between Kilcoo and Burren in his ongoing preparations for 2019, Poacher has quickly weighed in with a vote of confidence for the new boss.
"I think Down will be the team to beat in Division Three of the league next year," he predicts boldly. "You can make the argument that Down are not really a Division Three team. I feel that from a talent perspective Down really should not be where they are.
"I feel that Down are a top twelve team and I think they can make a quick return to Division Two.
"The right man is there now and he will have them well organised. He will have them well fired up, too, and I sense that they will be difficult to beat."
It's the kind of message that is calculated to fill Tally with confidence as he familiarises himself with his new brief but his feet remain very much on the ground. And it's this down to earth approach that Poacher feels could stand Tally in good stead.
"Everyone knows the style of football that Paddy favours and this actually suits the time of the year at which the Allianz League is played," points out Poacher. "Paddy was with Galway before becoming Down boss and he has achieved success everywhere he has gone. He won the Sigerson Cup with St Mary's a couple of years ago and his successful involvement in football really started when he was trainer of the 2003 Tyrone All-Ireland winning side."
Poacher remains unshakeable in his belief that Down harbour a lot of very good footballers.
"I honestly think that Down are equipped to do well and I believe that Paddy's infectious personality will have a bearing on how the players perform," stresses Poacher. "If he can get the Kilcoo lads back on board then I think this would be a big help to Down.
"I'm going a little bit obscure here but I would have no objection in seeing Marty Clarke used as a goalkeeper, would you believe!
"The way the game has gone, I know that Marty is one of the first players I would have been ringing had I been appointed."
Poacher's view will surprise many people for whom Clarke was a playmaker supreme in the Down team of not so long ago.
The side in which he played reached the 2010 All-Ireland final in which they were narrowly beaten by Cork (0-16 to 0-15) when James McCartan was in charge.
Poacher, known to be keen to manage Down at some stage in the future, is hoping that Carlow can build on the significant progress they achieved this year.
The team reached the last four of the Leinster championship by beating a fancied Kildare side and Poacher is hopeful that they can ruffle more feathers in 2019.
"I think the ball is at Carlow's toe," he said. "They have a great chance to make more headway and knowing the calibre of the players I feel they will achieve this."