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Fionnuala Carr

FIONNUALA CARR: Traditions in Down football are changing

THERE is still no news on who the new Down Senior mens manager will be.

I think in some quarters, with regards the length of time it is taking to find a manager, this will be a concern. At the same time I don’t think it is good to just react and pick any manager. It is about getting the right person. They need to select carefully. Paddy Tally came in and did a good job, but now he is gone. Managers seem to come in for just a couple of years and then they are away. Down go up and down between division two and three and they haven’t seemed like they are going to win an Ulster Championship either. We got to the final in 2012 and were well beaten by Donegal.

So I think it is better to wait and get the right person.

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The incoming manager, whoever they are, will have noticed in this year’s club championship a string of very competitive games. However, I have not seen many players who will drastically change the make up of the panel that was there last year.

This weekend in the Down championship the quarter-finals are taking place as well as two relegation play offs.

Downpatrick are through to the quarter-final which is a turnaround after being relegated last year. Now they are in the quarter-final of the senior championship. They have been playing well enough to get there. They have Caolan Mooney now, and Gerard Collins, Peter Turley, and Conor McGrady who are all good players.

There have been some very exciting games in the championship. Warrenpoint getting beaten early on was a surprise. Another surprise is that Glenn have been very competitive, They have the two Millers back and Niall McParland. Clonduff have been good, but were beat by Kilcoo.

Kilcoo have not set the world on fire, but that is what they do, they just do enough to win. Teams might get ahead of them, but they can’t really put them away. However, it doesn’t appear as though they are going to dominate.

Then we can’t write off Burren either as they have had some strong performances.

They play Mayobridge and that will be the clash of this weekend. It should be a great game.

What I have noticed is that Downpatrick are the only large Town team left in the championship.

The traditionally strong town teams like Bryansford, Castlewellan or Warrenpoint are out.

Carryduff have a big catchment area, and they are in the quarter-finals but they are not a traditionally strong club. They are a good team and have put in a lot of work at underage. They are now competing at senior level.

But the big catchment area clubs aren’t represented. Those traditional teams that have long competed for championships aren’t there now. I don’t think that this is an anomaly. This has been happening in the last number of years.

Take Newry for example. They haven’t had a senior club in as far as I can remember. Bryansford have been on a decline. Castlewellan have struggled in the last couple of years. Downpatrick’s relegation adds to the argument that club football is at a crossroads in Down. Where is it going if these traditionally strong clubs aren’t competing in the same way as they used to?

And while there is no Down manager to watch the games they are good competitive games to look forward to.

What Down can also look forward to is a positive future for the ladies footballers.

Gregory McCartan’s brother Ronan has taken on the Down ladies. He managed Saul last year. He is a good appointment. By all accounts he is a very good coach. Down ladies have great potential. They were beaten by Wexford in the All-Ireland campaign. Wexford went on to lose the final. But Down were missing players and they will be stronger next year.

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