We will have to earn that title: Rogers
Down skipper Ambrose Rogers is adamant that there will be no room for sentiment and sympathy when his side bid to land their first Ulster title in eighteen years against Donegal on Sunday week.
No stranger to hard knocks — a ruptured spleen and two cruciate ligament injuries testify to this — Rogers believes that Down’s mental toughness will prove crucial in their efforts to thrust the county back onto the provincial throne.
“There is no point in suggesting that any team deserves anything because this is not the case,” points out Rogers.
“Just because we have been in the wilderness for so long does not mean that we are entitled to anything. There are people who maybe think that we should not even be in this final and it’s up to us to prove to them that we are worthy of our present position.”
For the 26-year-old Longstone clubman, this will be the biggest day of his sporting career to date.
“I was gutted to miss the All Ireland final in 2010 because I done my cruciate before then and I although I was togged out, I just had to sit there with the rest of the substitutes.
“It was hard to take but because you might have shipped a few setbacks does not mean that you are entitled to anything further along the line,” insist Rogers.
“It’s all going to boil down to what happens on the day in Clones. I believe that we have the capacity to play the kind of football that can win the game but we know that Donegal are a strong, well-organised side who are very set on winning back-to-back titles.”
Ambition clearly burns bright within this Down side and that ambition is matched by a voracious hunger and pride — qualities that have been inculcated by the management team of James McCartan, Aidan O’Rourke and Jerome Johnston.
But no one knows better than Rogers that when he leads his side out at St Tiernach’s Park their destiny will be in their own hands.
“While there is sometimes an element of sentiment in sport, ultimately players like to win honours for themselves because this is the reward for their continued input.
“We have boys who have been trying for many years to win an Ulster medal and while I know many folk are just willing them to succeed, the challenge is for the boys themselves to produce the goods on the day,” states Rogers.
His late father Ambrose snr proved a Down stalwart for many years and while Ambrose jnr cherishes his memory, he is keen to be remembered as a winning captain.
“We have to create our own history and be remembered for what we might do,” he adds.
“I am very proud of what my family has achieved but as players we want to win our own things. I would be very disappointed if I did not win anything in terms of senior championship success. That’s what has kept driving me on even in my darkest days.”