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Down's James Colgan is hoping for yet more Croke Park success

Down centre half back James Colgan will never forget the summer of 2005.

For the then Down minor captain’s last minute goal knocked Tyrone out of the Ulster Championship at the first round stage in Omagh.

Things then just took off with Down eventually being crowned All Ireland champions the following September.

Colgan (pictured) will again be back in Croke Park tomorrow afternoon with the onerous task of keeping tabs on Kerry ace Declan O’Sullivan.

It promises to be an intriguing contest, but Down manager James McCartan has always maintained that defensive duties are a team effort from start to finish.

Against Offaly in the All Ireland qualifiers Down’s defence was cut wide open on four separate occasions.

Fortunately for them, they survived to tell the tale.

But the bottom line is that against Kerry there will be no second chance.

They have to be rock solid, unyielding and resolute and that means not just midfielders but half forwards getting back behind the ball.

Manager McCartan will settle for nothing less. The defence has improved since losing the Division Two League decider to Armagh, but there can be no excuses.

Effectively Down’s season hinges on their ability to keep Kerry’s dangermen in check.

On the plus side Ambrose Rogers and Kalum King have emerged as a quality midfield pairing.

This is King’s first sustained run in the championship and he’s now reaping the rewards.

The switch of Dan Gordon from midfield to full back is also paying off, but he now faces his biggest examination — against Kerry full forward Kieran Donaghy.

But again it’s very much a case of shared responsibility as Down’s aim will be to cut off the supply of ball going into Kerry’s powerful and high scoring attack.

Defence is often the best means of attack and that has to be Down’s motto if their own free flowing attack is to inflict sufficient damage on Kerry’s rearguard.

Belfast Telegraph