We must avoid injuries Burns.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

We must avoid injuries  Burns. thumbnail

DOWN manager Eamon Burns is hoping to derive maximum benefit from the Dr McKenna Cup, but is also wary of picking up any injuries ahead of the National League and Ulster Championship.

Speaking to the Democrat, the Bryansford man said: "Obviously there is competition within the squad as the lads I have brought in will be looking to show their worth and naturally so.

"It is very condensed with Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday and if we were to get to the final then we would have five games plus a league game at the end of January.

"So we will have to use our panel well and try and avoid injuries. From a management perspective it is busy and if we can work it without any serious injuries or knocks then it will be a worthwhile exercise.

"The group is very similar to last year other than Jordanstown replaces Queen's.

"We will see how it goes. It will be a good competitive group and that is what we want from it. We will get a look at some new players and we can ease the experienced players in so they are ready for the National League.

We will also rotate the squad the best we can and put out the strongest team we possibly can."

Burns was also asked what would he regard as a successful 2018, and as far as the league is concerned, he said Down would be seeking to consolidate their position in Division Two, and see if they can push on at the top end of the division.

Antrim will be coming to Newry in the first round of Ulster, with Burns insisting: "We can't look any further than Antrim, and if we get over that, which will be tough, we can take it from there." "The experience of last year should stand to them.

If we achieve what we did last year, then that isn't enough because we want to make progress and they all have to up their game and they know that." Former Antrim player and joint manager Gearoid Adams will be joining Burns in the dugout this year.

Burns is certain of the worth of the appointment.

"He has plenty of experience as a player and as a manager and having coached Antrim will stand him in good stead," said Burns.

"He has been positive with us and the players have gelled with him quickly.

"He has worked with Clonduff, he has a job to do and he knows what the expectations are. These boys are looking to push on from last year and he was made aware of that at the start and I have to say he has been positive since he has come in and is working hard."

Any time a Down team takes to the field of play, and particularly before a final, the 'rich tradition' of the county is brought up and re-examined.

Burns was quizzed as to whether this was perhaps a hindrance in the run-up to and even during the 2017 Ulster final defeat to Tyrone.

"I don't think they carried that in because the last Down team that won an Ulster title I was playing in it and a lot of these boys weren't born," said Burns.

"It is like me talking about the players who won Ulster in 1961. I knew who they were but I had no connection with them at all.

"I don't think that bothers them a lot and it is probably talked about more through the media and the older generations - and they probably hear that when they are about their local towns and villages."


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