Sports

Coulter Calls It

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

DOWN begin their National Football League campaign against Pete McGrath's Louth on Sunday (January 28) in what I believe is a must win game if we can think about getting promoted from Division Two this season.

I am very optimistic about our chances in this years campaign as I believe Down now have as strong a panel as what we have had since 2010.

Looking at the players at Eamonn Burns disposal, there is a very good balance about the squad with nearly two players able and fit to play in every position of the field.

Down have worked extremely hard from November, which should stand them in a good position going into this game and with the new lads settling into the squad in a relatively good way this looks very positive from a Down perspective.

The Mourne men need to aim to pick up points at home but they will also have pencilled in Louth and Cavan as two away games where we should be expected to win.

On the team, I expect to see a settled team to line out with most of last year's Ulster Final team starting with the exception of a few lads, such as Aaron Morgan, Conor Poland, Anthony Doherty and Keith Quinn coming into the team at some stage throughout the League.

With Connaire Harrison, Sean Dornan and the returning Barry O'Hagan Down possess an almighty full-forward line and if we can get enough ball into these three in any game this year, they will cause serious problems for any defence.

It is vitally important Down get off to a winning start on Sunday and I expect it to happen, so I predict that Down will win by five points.

Armagh will host Sligo in thier first National League game of 2018, in a game where I would expect the Orchard men to win by a few points. Armagh have had a decent Dr McKenna Cup campaign and that should help the confidence of this young squad to overcome a Sligo team in transition.

Armagh must win this game if they are to gain promotion as this would be seen as one of the easier teams in the group with harder challenges ahead.

This is a campaign where Armagh simply have to get out of Division Three and with other teams in the group it certainly is not a forgone conclusion as Fermanagh, Derry and Westmeath will have a massive baring on how things go. I think Armagh will win and I will go with a five point win for Armagh also.

The weather has caused chaos with all the matches over the weekend with a lot of very disappointed players and supporters around the country.

The weather is something we can't do much about but my gripe with the club games is why the could not be wrapped up in the calendar year?

It would only take another three weeks to get the All-Ireland Club semi-finals and finals played in the respective championships. Some teams are waiting ten or more weeks in between there provincial finals and the semi finals of the All-Ireland, which is far too long and just drags the club season out.

Get it all wrapped up before Christmas and play all the semi-finals, in Croke Park, so that would eliminate and hope that the games would fall foul of the weather.

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