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Manager McCorry hopes Down are on the road to progress

By John Campbell

Down manager Jim McCorry had hoped to enjoy the benefits that might accrue from a home draw in the first round of the All-Ireland football qualifiers.

Instead, his side must make the lengthy trek to Wexford today aware that a hot reception awaits them from the host side who stumbled in the closing stages of their Leinster Championship clash with Westmeath.

In contrast, Down showed considerable courage and character before going under by a point to Derry (0-12 to 0-11) in the Ulster quarter-final in which they lost wing-back Conaill McGovern to a red card in the second-half.

"I'm just wondering what we have to do to get a home draw," mused McCorry. "We seem to be on the road a lot but we will have to go with what is in front of us."

With Donal O'Hare and Aidan Carr still doubtful and McGovern's availability the subject of speculation, McCorry may have to dig deeper into his resources if his side is to come out on top.

Skipper Conor Laverty, Kevin McKernan, Brendan McArdle, Mark Poland and Paul Devlin will provide a valuable raft of experience while Caolan Mooney's skill and versatility, Luke Howard's authority at the back and Stephen Kane's growing confidence between the posts will bolster the Mourne side.

McCorry is well aware that Wexford, under former Tipperary under-age boss David Power, are capable of finding an extra gear on home soil.

"They have a number of experienced players, they are well organised and they will want to build on that performance against Westmeath," pointed out McCorry. "This means we will have to be on our toes from the start. We can't afford to be chasing the game."

Ben Brosnan, Colm Kehoe, Brian Malone, Ciaran Lyng and Adrian Flynn are among the Wexford old guard who can be expected to lead the team's resistance today.

Lyng and Brosnan are dangerous forwards and both are capable of picking off scores from distance while Kehoe and Malone are battle-hardened.

The Down defence looked solid against Derry and will require to be equally vigilant today.

It's at midfield, though, where Down must impose themselves if they hope to provide possession to their frontrunners.

McCorry appears to have adequate reserves on the bench and his deployment of these resources could perhaps prove a telling factor in his team's ability to move onwards and upwards.

Belfast Telegraph


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