By Shaun Casey
THERE’S been nothing easy with Down in recent weeks. Their revival under Conor Laverty was halted momentarily thanks to Sean Quigley’s late goal in round three but their win over Westmeath last weekend keeps them well and truly in the hunt for promotion.
Laverty’s side trail Cavan and Fermanagh at the top of the Division Three table, but they can make up some ground on Sunday when they travel to Kingspan Breffni to take on the 2020 Ulster champions.
The Breffni Blues are one of just three sides throughout all divisions that have won every game, joining that elite bracket with Derry and Dublin.
Cavan sit comfortably at the top of the table having saw off Westmeath, Tipperary, Longford and Offaly without breaking much of a sweat.
They are the in form team in the division, but Down have showed character and a fighting spirit that was missing throughout last season, and they will relish the chance to overturn the favourites for the league title.
Laverty’s side left it late last weekend, coming from seven points down in the second half to win by two, with Ceilum Doherty and Andrew Gilmore nailing late scores to battle past Westmeath. The visit of the 2022 Tailteann Cup winners was arguably Down’s biggest test of the season, and one they ultimately passed.
Down’s league campaign has been fairly dramatic so far, with their last three games all decided in the dying minutes. Conor Poland’s goal near the end of the game saw Down steal victory from the jaws of defeat against Antrim, following their first round win over Tipperary.
It round three, it was the Mourne men who were on the receiving end of a heart-breaking, late comeback, when Fermanagh produced the goods at the death, with Quigley’s palmed three-pointer seeing the Erne men over the line with one to spare.
But Down displayed great resolve to bounce back and return to winning ways and it sets up a humdinger this weekend. Momentum is huge in league football and both these sides will hope they can carry their winning form into the game.
This is the sort of test Down and their manager Laverty will have be targeting from the start of the season. A performance here against Mickey Graham’s men will determine how far Down have come since the Kilcoo legend took over.
Should Down lose, they are more or less out of the running for promotion, but that won’t be their attitude. They’ll be out to upset the odds and gather up another two points.