Down under pressure

Down under pressure

15 February 2017

DOWN senior footballers are at crisis point after Sunday’s disastrous defeat in Clare.

The Banner County had six points to spare in a commanding performance that saw them come out the right side of a 2-11 to 0-11 result.

Down are now 1/5 with bookmakers to be relegated to Division 3, and this from a county which was in an All-Ireland final just over six years ago. 

Next up is Meath in Newry on Saturday week and a positive result here is unlikely after the Leinster men’s show of strength in their demolition of Derry.

There is also reported to be serious unrest in the Mourne camp with a number of players said to be unhappy with the current set-up. For the second week in a row there were a number of shocking omissions from Down’s starting 15.

Darragh O’Hanlon, Conor Maginn, Kevin McKernan, Peter Turley and Ryan Johnston all had to be content yet again with appearances from the bench. The travelling support was left bewildered as to why this quintet were not in from the start.

Mark Poland’s future with the squad is also in doubt as he did not travel with the team to Ennis and neither did Downpatrick’s Damian Turley, who appears to have opted out of the squad.

One positive though was a late appearance from Kilcoo’s Jerome Johnston who got some valuable game time.

There have been frantic calls from some quarters for the current management team to step aside and for the County Board to usher in a new regime for the rest of the league programme.

Current U-21 and Downpatrick RGU manager, Conor Deegan, and his assistant, Michael Walsh, have been vaunted as possible replacements should the county decision makers opt to change things up.

This scenario remains unlikely though. 

Eamon Burns and his management team will likely be given more time to turn things around.

However, the County Board could be forced into making a big call if the current mood of the panel doesn’t improve and the players begin to agitate for change.

Survival in Division 2 looks highly unlikely.

Down still have to travel to Cork and Derry with other tough home ties including Galway and Kildare. 

The pressure is really now on the team management to start delivering results and have the squad in the best possible shape come the Ulster SFC opener against old rivals Armagh.

A short summer for the Down faithful looks to be in store.

With a failure to entice some of the best players in the county into the set-up and a reluctance to start the strongest team in recent games, fortunes really are at a low ebb.