McCARTAN CONTENT WITH YOUNG BLOOD
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
DOWN boss James McCartan failed to get overly excited about his side's two-point victory over Cavan in Sunday's Dr McKenna Cup opener in Breffni Park.
The Mourne men required a late surge of points to seal the deal and while McCartan is happy with the performances of young players such as Warrenpoint's Ryan Boyle, Longstone's Ryan Kelly, Glasdrumman's Connaire Harrison and Gerard McAnulty of Liatroim, he acknowledged it took experienced campaigners such as Liam Doyle and Benny Coulter to provide the platform for victory.
“Maybe in the end we brought on experienced players to win the game so don't read too much into it at this time of year. It's just a case of trying to look at young guys and try and give the experienced boys a bit of game-time and get them ready for the National League," said McCartan.
“I thought for 20 minutes of the first half Connaire Harrison was very dangerous and then we moved him. We tried to change something around and maybe we shouldn't have done that, even though Danny came into full-forward, Connaire went out a bit and that is not what we wanted to do, so in hindsight we probably wouldn't do that again."
Indeed Harrison had an excellent start and has been consistently an excellent performer for his club. Down have an embarrassment of riches up front with Coulter, Conor Laverty, Ryan Kelly, Harrison and Paul McComiskey all dangerous, lively and creative in the full-forward line.
It is in defence yet again that caused McCartan most concern.
“We are probably disappointed with the first half performance if we are honest; we conceded eight points playing with the wind," he said.
"It is something we talked about, it isn't the case we didn't have numbers to get tackles in but obviously guys were running backwards and not getting tackles in, so that was disappointing.
“So we asked them to try and make the effort to get back and defend to push up and make a tackle instead of just coming back and watching the ball come over their heads and over the bar.
“But look it was a gutsy performance, I'm not sure but Cavan have been training a lot longer than us and you don't get anything easy in Breffni and they certainly put it up to us and asked a lot of questions, particularly in the first half."
With Ambrose Rodgers, Danny Hughes, Dan Gordon and Donal O'Hare ruled out for the remainder Down's McKenna Cup campaign, which may be only until Wednesday, January 16, when the Mourne men take on rivals Armagh in Pairc Esler, McCartan is keen to try out new blood but doesn't believe there are enough talented footballers over 6ft 2 within the county.
“Down is full of good footballers it is just a case of can we stretch them?" he said.
Because there is no 6ft 2 players. There is not many of them around. If the All-Ireland was about sevens football we would win it year in year out, unfortunately we have to make do what we have.
“So for guys who are small in stature we have to make up in work rate and energy. I thought at times in the first half we were flat. At that we asked them to provide energy. Again it is a game under our belts and we are delifghted to get it and it is all about looking towards the National League.
“I was disappointed we weren't winning the game by two or three points at half-time but maybe that is me looking through my rose-tinted glasses, I'm sure Terry (Hyland, the Cavan manager) has a different opinion.
“I suppose I was most pleased about was the boys played into a breeze they showed a bit of guts and determination and they wanted to win and that is what it is all about.
“We have to wait until Wednesday week to play Armagh because nobody wants to play us because everyone else is playing, - maybe we will play Queen's in a friendly," McCartan cheekily said.
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