Sports

Mourne men prepare to get physical

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

DOWN and Kildare meet having come from opposite ends of the Championship. In their last game the Mourne men were cruising against no-hopers Leitrim while Kildare were bruised following a tougher Leinster test against Meath.
Whether Down have prepared enough for a jump in intensity will go a long way as to how they will fair in Sunday's do or die contest.
While Kildare are a robust team, who like to move the ball with short passing, Down should be able to cause the Lilywhite rearguard trouble if they feed their forwards with quality passes.
Conor Laverty has been in flying form all season and the Kilcoo livewire as the technique to engineer scores and the ability to take players on.
Donal O'Hare has been quiet in relative terms and player that usually doesn't lack confidence is due a big performance and Sunday is the perfect time for the Burren forward to produce the goods.
Again Conor Maginn will be expected to provide the link-up play and he has the ability to thread accurate passes or kick from long-range. Saval's Niall Madine gives Down height and strength and manager James McCartan is likely to continue to play him as a target man at the edge of the square.
With Ambrose Rogers, Dan Gordon, Kevin McKernan and Peter Turley available for selection Down have plenty of options in midfield. McKernan started at half back against Leitrim and if Kildare are going to set up defensively with players behind the middle, McKernan is an excellent player for the counter-attacking game-plan should Down choose to take that route.
Down have done a lot of work in defence in recent years and with Mayobridge's Conor Garvey and Clonduff's Darren O'Hagan back from injury the Mourne men have plenty of cover. Benny McArdle was rested for Round One of the Qualifiers but is expected to return to full-back on Sunday. Dan McCartan has been ever present in the Mourne defence in recent seasons and Kildare will provide a sterner test that the last game in Pairc Esler. Under Kieran McGeeney Kildare won 16 out of 17 games in the Qualifiers, while Down's record, with the exception of last year's defeat to Derry, has been impressive under manager James McCartan.
Both teams would have realistic
expectations of reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals but on Sunday only one team will
progress.
In his column, Down star Benny Coulter has called on supporters to come out in force and become the 16th man against a fancied Kildare side.
He said: "I would call on all our supporters to come out to Newry and give us the support that we need to get over the line.
“Your support throughout the year does not go unnoticed and hopefully we will have a massive crowd on Sunday again."
It is sure to be a tough hard-hitting battle, but considering Kildare were surprised that Meath tackled hard in the last encounter, it won't be too hard for James McCartan to have something up their sleeve.
Throw in is at 2pm on Sunday (July 13) but fans are advised to arrive early and be prepared not to park too close to Pairc Esler.

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