Tuesday, 20 June 2017

IN his first ever interview Down's Shay Millar is hoping that his side can pull off a surprise in Saturday's Ulster Championship semi-final.

Last season he was a fan in the crowd when Down slumped to a 22-point defeat but after attending trails at the start of year he never thought he would be nominated for a Man of the Match award against rivals Armagh.

At 24-years-old, Millar feels he has plenty more year's to offer and while he believes that Down are building for the future, he is prepared for a titanic battle against Malachy O'Rourke's Monaghan.

"We have plenty of good forwards in our team so we will be able to get scores and we won't be inviting them to come on to us," said Millar.

"Conor McManus is arguably the best forward in Ireland so we don't want to be giving him too much ball. Gerard McGovern is a quality defender and has marked him twice already, so hopefully on Saturday he can do the business again." After beating Armagh at the start of the month, Millar is confident going into Saturday's game.

"Obviously I was happy with how the game went and I thought the team played well and we are improving since the start of the National League and continuously getting better so confidence is good going into Monaghan.

"They will be a tougher test and we are going well in training so hopefully we can push on and get a result on Saturday.

"We are always looking to improve and we went back over the Armagh game and looked at parts of our game we need to improve on because Monaghan will be a tougher test.

Millar plays in the full-foward line for his club Glenn and he laughs when asked about carrying his club scoring form over into county.

"For Glenn I get to play a bit closer to goal and I don't really have any defensive duties but listen this is my first year on the Down panel and I am just happy to be getting on the team," said Millar. "After the trials at the start of the year I never expected to get any game-time, so everything so far has been a massive plus for me.

"I have been working towards for a few years and while I am 24-years-old I have never been on a county panel before. I think I am at a good age, where I am not too young or too old but a good age to go into the team." Millar works in the fresh food business with his dad and generally is a quiet unassuming lad and he feels that Down are building towards something special and perhaps they can pull off a perceived shock.

"We have the talent in the squad and myself Darragh O'Hanlon, the two Johnston's, Niall Donnelly and Niall McParland are all 24 or 25, so there is probably at least five years left in all of us. We have yet to hit our prime yet "I don't think anybody outside of Down really give us a chance really are giving us a chance against Monaghan and most people think that Monaghan will beat us well.

"Hopefully we can surprise a few people as against Armagh there as a few people didn't give us a chance either and I think we surprised a few people there." And Millar hasn't set himself any personal targets, as he is living the dream playing for Down.

"All my personal ambitions and like everything that has come so far, has been more than what I expected, so I'll be happy if we win."


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