Experience is key for Down’s Burns

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Experience is key for Down’s Burns thumbnail

DOWN manager Eamonn Burns had little complaints when he slipped out the back door of the changing rooms to prepare for the back door of the All-Ireland Series.

He acknowledged he has a tough job to lift his players for the Qualifiers but accepted Tyrone were the better team and are deserved Ulster Champions.

"We are disappointed. I thought on the day the best team won and I thought it was very encouraging how we finished the game. We kept battling to the end, we didn't throw the towel in. So that will stand us in good stead," said Burns.

"The other thing we have to factor in is that was our first time in an Ulster final. Tyrone, some of those boys it was their second or even their fourth. All those things come into play but I have to say, I am very proud of them." Tyrone are back to back Ulster Champions and this season they possess a much more attacking threat with an even better attacking game-plan than last season and boast a disciplined defensive unit, which made them formidable opponents.

"Well, it's difficult to play against them, said Burns.

"You definitely have to have men to commit to runs that they probably aren't going to get the ball from. At times in the first half we didn't do that, at times in the second half, especially late on, we did do that. It bore fruit.

"But today's experience will stand us in good stead. It's a learning curve and we're taking small steps. Today we would've liked to take an Ulster title but unfortunately we didn't.

"I don't think we can have any complaints, the better team won." While Down kicked 15 points, they missed numerous chances and Darragh O'Hanlon's chance at goal before half-time could have been a game-changer, but Burns is confident that given time his players and team can close the gap on Tyrone.

"We probably weren't getting ball to them in the right areas which was probably a tribute to the way they were set up," Burns said.

"In the first half we were a bit tentative in the way we attacked them. In the second half, OK the game was away on us and they had stepped back a bit. We ran at them, punched holes, it seemed to pay dividends for us. We didn't so that in the first half.

"We did it once in the first half, created a goal chance, if we had have taken that... "OK, it mightn't have won us it today, but it would have given us a platform at half time to work off.

"When you look at the scoreline, they scored 19 times, we scored 15 times, there is not a massive gulf in that. The two goals were crucial and goals win you games. We will get back to Newry on Tuesday [tonight] and have a look at things." This season, Down have made significant progress and Burns deserves credit for taking his team to the last 12 in the country.

They need time to continue to grow and while being forced to meet Monaghan again is a tricky task , the Mourne men will start next season on firmer footing than for the last two years.

Of course, there is no reason Down can't win again. Much will depend on attitude and of course performance on the day but the Mourne men have nothing to fear and all to gain.

Burns is comfortable that his team is learning with every game.

"That's what I said, for a lot of our players it was their first time on the big stage of an Ulster final and thought they tried very, very hard at times. It didn't work out for some of them, but that's the way it is," Burns said.

"Experience is crucial, their experience in those situations is massive and Tyrone had more experience than we had.

"At the start of the second half Tyrone seemed able to control the ball and got a few scores and we went from being two down to four or five down. That gave them a cushion to work off.

When they have that cushion, they use their experience to push on."


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