Down served up one of the most exciting and thrilling games so far in this year’s championship against Armagh in their opening game, losing out by just one point after 90 plus minutes of end to end action. Having trailed by five points at one stage, Down displayed great battling qualities along with a never say die attitude that impressed their former captain Aidan Carr,
“The big thing from Down is a lot of people are really hoping that they can replicate what they did against Armagh, that level of performance, it wasn’t seen through the league and a lot of people were going in hope and loyalty rather than expectation against Armagh but the boys were super, it was a super performance”.
Carr pointed to individual errors along with inexperienced at this level for Down’s defeat, “Individual mistakes can cost you the game. At a few key points in the game a few players took the wrong decision and it cost Down. It’s just learning from those. It’s a massive step up from the league, from club football to county football is a step up and then from league to championship football is bigger again”.
“The boys played really well it’s just that sometimes it’s hard not to do what you always do, like carrying the ball into tackles, at county level the gaps are wider and everybody is as big and as strong as you are so the big learning point for me would be keeping the ball out of the tackle and keeping it moving. The work rate against Armagh was phenomenal. I’d like to see them play with four forwards up, the boys battled very hard but I think if they played to their strengths a wee bit more, they have good attackers on the pitch and if they move the ball at pace those players will do damage”.
Down have reported a clean bill of health leading into their clash with Tipperary although they’ll have to face the Premier County without their midfield maestro Caolan Mooney, who will miss out due to suspension, “He’s powerful, he’s big and he’s strong and towards the end of the Armagh game, Down just couldn’t get their hands on the ball when they needed to and they’re going to miss his physical presence”.
“I thought Down really missed Niall Donnelly in the middle of the field as well, so whenever you take out Mooney, you’re potentially missing your two best midfielders. Conor Poland was exception against Armagh, his work rate, his tackling off the ball, his support play but there’s thin stocks in round the middle at the minute. Mooney gives you so much more, people talk about his pace going forward but his pace going back gets Down out of a lot of trouble too. He does so much cover tackling that goes unnoticed but he’s one of the better tacklers on the Down team”.
Down have the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd, although this experience hasn’t meant success so far this season, losing 3 from their 5 home games throughout the league and championship. “For a long time Down couldn’t get a game at home and now they’ve been blessed over the last years with getting games at home and Newry’s a great place to play”.
“It didn’t mean an awful lot to them in the league, their home performances weren’t great and they actually got their better performances away from home so you’re hoping that the pressure of playing at home doesn’t get to them. Tipperary won’t fear coming to Down, they have two top class forwards in Sweeney and Quinlivan who can effectively win the game themselves when they’re on song but I still think Newry in the championship is something to be enjoyed rather than a burden against you”.
Tipperary are certainly one of the hardest teams to meet so early in the qualifiers but Carr his hopeful his team can come out on top “I think they’ll take a lot of confidence from the Armagh game. They could have got over the line on a different day, a few individual errors and decisions went against them at dubious times. I just hope that they’ve regrouped well and they’ll go again”.