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Fans are urged to lift Down in their bid for Ulster crown

Down chairman Seamus Walsh last night sounded a rallying call to followers to put recent disappointments behind them and give their full backing to James McCartan’s team in their bid to win the Ulster Championship title for the first time in 16 years.

The National League Division Two final defeat at the hands of Armagh, the loss of right-full-back Daniel McCartan because of suspension, ongoing concerns over the fitness of skipper Ambrose Rogers and Damien Rafferty and the fact that first round opponents Donegal have been considerably buoyed following the achievement of their Under 21 side in reaching the All Ireland final have all combined to heap rather more pressure on the Mournemen.

But Walsh has moved quickly to dispel what he believes may be a growing sense of apprehension within the Mourne County.

“We are about to enter the real business end of the season and although we might have had a couple of mishaps lately, the fact that the team has already won promotion to Division One and shown that they are capable of playing quality football is the best possible backdrop against which we can enter the Ulster Championship.

“We have already beaten Donegal in the league and we have enough experience in our side to cope with the forthcoming challenge in Ballybofey. I urge all our fans to get right behind the players and I feel sure that Down can make a big impact this year,” states Walsh.

In mulling over his projected championship line-up, manager McCartan must now consider the possibility of starting former skipper Dan Gordon alongside Peter Fitzpatrick or Kalum King at midfield if Rogers, an inspirational skipper during the team’s stirring National League campaign, is still ruled out.

Rogers himself recognises that his injury requires more rest but is still anxious to make the cut for the showdown in Ballybofey — a venue at which Donegal were surprisingly ambushed by Antrim last year.

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