Sports

Benny Column

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

DOWN will be bitterly disappointed that they left Saturday's match behind them as for long periods of the match.
They were in control and really should have won the game pulling up but that's Championship football and going into the last ten minutes you need your experienced players in the pitch.
But for one reason or another that was not the case with Down and eventually Cavan came out in top and unfortunately for Down that is the season over for them after only three matches in the championship.
Down started the game without Donal O'Hare and Shay Millar and also had Connaire Harrison and Kevin McKernan blacked carded in the first half, so that was a massive blow and in Championship football you need your best players on the pitch to ensure your team gets over the line and it cost Down badly in the end.
Down were looking comfortable 15 minutes into the second half and then a red card for Ryan Johnston followed by a goal from Cavan had the game turned on its head in within five minutes.
And after that it was going to be an uphill battle and that's when you really need your best players on the pitch.
It has been a hugely disappointing year for Down with relegation to Division Three and crashing out of the Championship earlier than expected and the players and management will know it has been a poor season and they will really be hurting today.
They put in a huge amount of work into it and some players will be mulling over whether to stay on and play next year or call it a day.
Armagh had another convincing win over Sligo and seem to be playing a nice brand of football and are getting some confidence back after the defeat to Fermanagh and will be a match for Clare come the next round.
This route seems to suit Armagh as it's the second year they have came through the backdoor to great affect. It's hard to put the finger on why they can't produce the level of performance in the Ulster Championship and maybe the players are putting too much pressure on themselves therefore don't perform to their maximum ability.
The inter-county season is the pinnacle for most players and it's also a great time for supporters but for me it's over very early for teams and the fact now that not one Down team will play a competitive match for six months.
It is hard to fathom and a very long time for a county team to wait for the new season.
The GAA need to take a look at the Championship as it needs a massive revamp so that teams stay in the competition longer than now and teams get to play at least five matches each in the championship.
The fact that all the finals so far with the exception of Galway and Roscommon have been hammering matches should send warning signs to the GAA.
I have said for year's that a two-tiered system would work and I still think it would but it needs to be done right and not half-hearted.

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