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McKernan blasts team-mates as they exit Down

By John Campbell

Down star Kevin McKernan has hit out at three of his team-mates who have quit the squad to travel abroad.

Mourne trio Paul McComiskey, Arthur McConville and Darren O'Hagan left the squad prior to the last league game against Kildare.

McComiskey has gone travelling for a year while McConville and O'Hagan have gone to America in search of work.

McKernan has revealed he is “disappointed” the players did not commit to Down, who face Derry in an Ulster championship opener on June 2.

“I can't speak for the group but I'd be personally disappointed,” he admitted.

“The choice was a summer in America or playing for your county. To me, you can go to America any time of the year. I'd always work my travels around football.

“I spent six weeks in Australia in December and January last year when the season was over. Those boys are going to add to our team and, unfortunately, they're not here.”

Despite beating Kildare, Down were relegated from Division 1 but McKernan insists the squad is good enough to cause a few shocks.

Part of his motivation will be to win without the players who walked out on the squad.

The former All Star claimed: “Maybe during the summer it'll turn around and bite them, the fact that we have won silverware.

“You put losing those boys on top of Peter Fitzpatrick, Marty Clarke, Caolan Mooney (all in Australia). You can just reel men off that's gone.

“But the boys that are there are taking their chance and they're enjoying it.”

Meanwhile, Dublin full-back Rory O'Carroll will miss the NFL final with Tyrone on Sunday week.

O'Carroll underwent an operation to fix a troublesome ankle problem last month and, while he is back in light training, he won't feature for the Dubs again until their championship opener against either Westmeath or Carlow on June 1.

“It's a bridge too far, unfortunately,” said O'Carroll of the final, which sees the Dubs go in search of their first league title since 1993.

“I had a loose bone and cartilage on my ankle joint, so it was impinging the movement.

“I was back running at the weekend and then I have to be put through my paces this week, and see how it goes.

“Everything's going according to plan so far.”

“We've got club championship after the league final so I want to get back for that — that's the main aim, really.”

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