By Kieran Lynch
DOWN Division 1A champions Burren will be hoping to add to their silverware and wrangle the Frank O’Hare Cup from Kilcoo’s grasp this year, and they got off to a winning start defeating Mayobridge in the opening round of the championship with RGU Downpatrick up next.
However, with Burren labelled as strong favourites in the opener, some may have expected them to win comfortably, but the victory was anything but, as the Bridge led at half-time, and took Burren all the way in extra-time, before a late goal put Burren out of sight in a 2-13 to 1-12 victory.
One person who wasn’t shocked at the level of difficulty Burren faced in getting over Steven Poacher’s side,is their manager Jim McCorry, who says that tough games are what you expect in the Down Championship.
“After the league final, I said that once championship football starts, you’re in a completely different ballpark, and we saw that with Mayobridge,” he reflected.
“We knew that the three games in the league that we beat them in were going to be nothing like what we were going against in the championship. They have an excellent coach in Stevie Poacher, they set up well, they do a lot of good stuff off the ball in terms of creating space, and they were winning a lot of their own kick-outs from it.
“But that’s Down football, for the bigger teams there is always a banana skin for somebody, and at one stage maybe everybody was rubbing their hands at half-time thinking that this was it.”
Burren had their problems on the night breaking through Mayobridge’s defence, and despite a horrific second quarter, which saw them throw away a five-point lead, McCorry was very happy with the response he got from his players, who never gave in.
“I’m delighted that the boys rallied – there were a lot of home truths spoken at half-time,” McCorry conceded.
“And I was delighted with the reaction that I got in the second half and in extra-time. Steven is totally unapologetic about the defensive qualities of any of his teams. He was very good at setting his team up defensively, and they were very hard to break down.
“The game was just what you expect from Down football, and we’ll probably get the same from Downpatrick in our next game; championship football in Down is a different animal, and all of our games are going to be tight.”
RGU Downpatrick are the opposition now in round two after they defeated An Riocht 2-15 to 2-8, and McCorry is in no doubt that another difficult fixture awaits.
“No matter who you meet in the championship, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“Downpatrick are a strong side, they still have Peter Turley playing and dominating in midfield, and he was very good whenever we played them in the league down in Downpatrick. They have Gerdie Collins in the back line, who when I took the Down team, was as good an attacking defender as there is in any county. So, they have strong players spread throughout the team.
“They have players who can score, they have big men, and they beat us down in Downpatrick in the league, so obviously they know how to beat us. It’s going to be tough, but that’s championship football. No matter who you meet it’s going to be difficult getting over each round.”