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Poacher set for basement battle with ambitious Carlow

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By Declan Bogue

Steven Poacher, the current Ballyholland club manager in Down, has explained his logic in becoming team trainer for Carlow, as they begin preparations for the 2017 National League.

Poacher, who has trained Down under-21 and Mayobridge teams previously, met with Carlow manager Turlough O'Brien at one of the coaching conferences he stages at St Columban's College in Kilkeel, where he is a teacher.

The latest one is tomorrow, where Conor Laverty, along with Antrim management duo Frank Fitzsimmons and Gearoid Adams will be taking coaching sessions.

"He (O'Brien) asked me last year to come in and take a few sessions prior to the Championship against Louth. I took a couple of sessions and then after it as they went to go into the qualifiers," he said.

"They drew Wicklow at home and I went down on a more regular basis and then got a couple of midweek sessions as well.

"They had a good win against Wicklow and asked me to stay on for the following qualifier against Cavan."

The journey takes Poacher two hours from door to door of their training facility in Fenagh, a few miles outside Carlow town. Although the Barrowsiders will start life in the basement division next February, Poacher insists they have potential, spearheaded by former Sydney Swans player Brendan Murphy.

"Hurling is very strong in the county, but they definitely want to push football on. The ambition this year would be to get out of Division Four. It's going to be a very competitive league this year. Limerick are in it, Westmeath are down," he said.

"And then you have Wexford as well, who are under Banty (Seamus McEnaney) this year. They are going to be well organised and probably playing a more Ulster-style of football this year."

Meanwhile, University of Ulster Jordanstown defeated Maynooth University in the Ryan Cup quarter-final played at Jordanstown's campus, 2-14 to 2-12.

Managed by Martin McHugh, the Shore Road men got off to a flyer, with Thomas Clarke of Lisnaskea snatching a goal after five minutes to put them 1-1 to 0-0 up. They then conceded six consecutive frees to go in at half-time four points down.

However, a goal from Down forward Niall Madine rescued the situation in the second half with Fermanagh captain Eoin Donnelly standing out as the dominant player.

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