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Mournemen's Croker class of 2010 barely recognisable

Down and out in four years

By Declan Bogue

It was James McCartan's first year as Down manager and as they recovered from an Ulster semi-final defeat against Tyrone to blaze a trail all the way to the All-Ireland final, it appeared the good times were here to stay.

However, it never truly happened like that. In fact, it could be argued that from the moment of that one-point defeat in the final to Cork, Down were fighting a losing battle.

They were often involved in dramatic games, such as the 2012 Ulster semi-final comeback when they reeled in Monaghan to reach the final, but they never came close to collecting meaningful silverware again.

With the retirement of Down goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh last week, it brings the proportion of players who appeared in the 2010 All-Ireland final down to less than half a team.

However, that number could be increased with a new management team coming in and the suspicion that Martin Clarke and Caolan Mooney could be tempted to end their sojourn playing Australian Rules Football. Others, such as Paul Devlin and the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan, will also become more prominent in the years to come.

Here, we go through the starting line-up against Cork, as well as the substitutes that featured in their run through the 2010 Championship.

Brendan McVeigh:

Retired last week. Succeeded Mickey McVeigh, who had taken over from Neil Collins, proving that Down have enjoyed some lineage of goalkeepers. Works with BT, an All-Star in 2010.

Damien Rafferty:

Retired in June 2012 through a persistent groin injury. Was manager of Clanna Banna in Division Two, this year took up the reins with Omeath in Louth and is manager of Destination Newry.

Dan Gordon:

Made a surprise comeback this summer lining out at midfield for the replay against Tyrone, after not playing for the entire season. A teacher in Abbey CBS. Could be back in 2015.

Daniel McCartan:

Still on the panel and an ever-present over the last few seasons. Is rumoured to be taking up a coaching position in Queen's for next year. Works as a dentist.

Conor Garvey:

Still on the panel. Missed quite a bit of football last year after he got a bit of steel in his eye through working with cars. Back for the Championship this season. Mechanic.

Declan Rooney:

Still on panel. Recently returned and played Championship with Burren after spending some time in Dublin. Made a recovery from groin injury, a similar problem to Damian Rafferty. Joiner.

Kevin McKernan:

Still there and a dependable of Down football. Won an All-Star for his performances in 2010 and since has plugged a variety of positions at midfield and in the forwards. Was an electrician, now at St Mary's College.

Peter Fitzpatrick:

Left in December 2011 to work as a bricklayer in Australia. Has returned in recent times and is back playing in midfield for Ballymartin. Made a return to the panel this year.

Kalum King:

Started this season in the O'Fiaich Cup and played a couple of National League games before taking some time out of playing for his club Bryansford, although he returned to strip out for the club in the Championship. Chartered accountant.

Daniel Hughes:

Was undecided whether he was going to come back during the season when James McCartan appeared to retire him during the league. Suffered greatly with a variety of injuries. Works in finance. All-Star in 2010.

Mark Poland:

Still there. Games Development Coach in Down, was county captain for the 2014 season, still the starman for Longstone.

Martin Clarke:

Back in October to get married in Ireland. A few universities have enquired about his availability and it appears that his Aussie Rules career with Collingwood could be drawing to a close, paving the way for a return to Down. All-Star in 2010.

Paul McComiskey:

Could be persuaded back. Although small in stature, he is back playing for Dundrum, delivering a masterclass against Newry Mitchells last weekend at midfield. Left the panel in 2011 and never returned. Is an accountant.

John Clarke:

Retired after the 2011 Ulster Championship defeat to Armagh in mid-season having been substituted in the first half. Gave 11 years to Down and still performing for An Riocht. Is a radio host and advertising executive with Q Radio.

Benny Coulter:

Has said he would be available for Down next year and still the main man for Mayobridge, playing sensational stuff against Tullylish from the middle of the field last weekend. Games Development Officer for the county board and owns a gloves firm. All-Star in 2010.

On the bench

Conor Maginn:

Still remains. Travelled to Australia 2012/13 and back at the end of last year. Works in finance.

Ronan Murtagh:

Retired in 2012. Captain of Ballyholland and a dedicated clubman. Works in construction and proprietor of RM Fitness gym.

Brendan McArdle:

Still there. A most un-intercounty occupation of farmer and plays for Annaclone.

Aidan Brannigan:

Kilcoo man has not been on the panel since 2012, but considered one of the best man-markers in Down. A sheep farmer.

Conor Laverty:

Still on the panel, works as a Games Development Officer in Trinity University.

James Colgan:

Captain of the 2005 All-Ireland winning minor side. Played right up to the Sligo game in 2010. Left to work in New Zealand in 2012 and has remained, working as a physiotherapist.

Ronan Sexton:

Has retired from Gaelic football with his club Mayobridge, but will be playing college football for St Mary's where he is a student. Plays for Greenfield in the Carnbane soccer league where he has become a goalscoring midfielder.

Stephen Kearney:

Retired. Left football for a time last year but returned to play at club level for Saval. Working as a teacher in St Paul's Bessbrook.

Ambrose Rogers:

Still on the panel. Ruptured his cruciate during the 2010 campaign when he was captain, suffered a similar injury in a farm accident a couple of years back. Another Games Development Officer in Down.

Aidan Carr:

Still on the panel. Came on against Longford but had an interrupted couple of years with injuries, although has cemented a place again in the Down half-back line. Works for First Derivatives in Newry.

Darren O'Hagan:

Still on panel although has suffered some horrendous injuries and illness that has truncated his career. Is considered one of the best defenders in Down. Is a bricklayer.

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