Down hoping for win in Qualifiers

Down hoping for win in Qualifiers

5 June 2019

DOWN expect nothing less than a victory when Tipperary visit Pairc Esler on Sunday in the first round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.

Paddy Tally’s charges showed enough character and intensity in the epic clash with Armagh a fortnight ago to suggest that there is more to come.

Down fans hope that the county seniors are on the threshold of a new dawn and a win on Sunday holds the key to keeping the dream alive.

However, victory will have to be achieved without the suspended Caolan Mooney, whose one-match ban following his dismissal against Armagh was upheld last week.

Loughinisland’s Jonny Flynn would seem the most obvious choice to replace the Rostrevor danger man, but he too is gong to be out of action for a while after damaging knee ligaments.

Carryduff’s Owen McCabe and Saval’s Daniel McCarthy appear to be among the front runners for Mooney’s spot, but don’t rule out Saul’s Pierce Laverty or Carryduff’s James Guinness — two new kids on the block.

Tipperary will be like a wounded animal when they come north on Sunday.

They were expected to go well in Munster this year, despite being surprisingly relegated from Division 2 in the ACFL this season.

But a horror show against an unfancied Limerick side saw them fall to a shock 3-11 to 1-10 defeat at the start of last month in the opening round of the Munster SFC at Semple Stadium. 

Liam Kearns’ men were looking for a bright start to the championship, but were rolled over by Limerick, who were claiming their first championship win in seven years.

Down and Tipperary have only met once in the championship, back in the 2012 All-Ireland Qualifiers in Mullingar when the Red and Blacks recorded a 1-13 to 0-11 round four victory.

Since the Millennium, Down and Tipperary have played on six occasions in the league and there were three draws in 2001, 2004 and 2010. Down won two in 2009 and 2018 and Tipperary won one in 2009 when they defeated Down in the Division 3 final by 0-18 to 1-14.

But Down still should have too much firepower and go into the game as strong 4/6 favourites.

Apart from Mooney, Down are not expected to make any changes for Sunday’s clash.

Castlewellan’s Rory Burns should retain the No 1 shirt, despite getting a black card against Armagh.

Skipper Darren O’Hagan could be tasked with man-marking Quinlivan, but so too could Bryansford’s Ruairi Wells. 

Kevin McKernan will again be handed the sweeper’s role, leaving Gerard Collins, Conor Francis and Ryan McAleenan to fill the remaining defensive slots.

Francis could be pushed forward to replace Mooney in midfield to join Conor Poland with Connaire Harrison, Conor Maginn, Daniel Guinness, Jerome Johnston, Pat Havern and Donal O’Hare all starting in attack.