By Shaun Casey
IT’S just four weeks since Down and Tyrone crossed paths in the Leo Murphy Cup u-20 Development League and the Red Hands came out on top with two-points to spare.
Down coach Darragh O’Hanlon says his side won’t read too much into that game, as everything has been geared towards their championship clash with the All-Ireland champions this Wednesday evening.
“Every game you go to you try your best to win it, but people aren’t stupid, you have championship in a couple of weeks, so you don’t want to show your hand. It’s not the be all and end all but you still want to go out and give a good account of yourself.
“Everything is geared towards the championship and anyone that says any different is telling lies. We know the task, especially going to Tyrone’s backyard and trying to beat the All-Ireland champions, it’s the toughest task you could ask for.
“But we’re going to embrace it and we know we’re going to have to be on our ‘A’ game to beat them. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Down can call upon senior panellists Ryan Magill, Paddy McCarthy and Odhran Murdock for some experience and inspiration as they head to Omagh, along with Conor Laverty, who has been juggling the role as manager of the seniors and the u-20s.
“Conor takes it in his stride. It’s heavy going, being out of the house every night but Conor is brilliant, so is Decky (Morgan), the whole lot. It’s important to look after the three lads that our on the senior panel and Conor knows better than anyone how to manage that.
“We didn’t have them during the league but obviously they’re playing for Down in the National League, which is very important, but we’ll be glad to have them come the championship.
“You can’t burn lads out either, you can’t expect them to play for the seniors one day and play for the u-20s the next or make them train seven days a week. It’s important to look after them as well but it’s all one and it all works together.”
O’Hanlon his loving his time coaching the emerging Mourne youngsters, and although it doesn’t replace the thrill of playing, it certainly helps fill the void. “I love it under Conor and the boys. It’s very enjoyable, it’s good craic but it’s serious too at the same time.
“I really enjoy working with the lads too, it’s a great age group to be working with because they’re a great bunch of lads footballing wise, but you also get the craic from Uni and general batter,” added O’Hanlon.
“They’re a great bunch of lads to work with, they’re very hard working, and I really do enjoy it. There’s nothing like playing and it does help to fill that void.”