Tailteann Cup has potential says former Down star

By Shaun Casey

THE Tailteann Cup has a lot of potential, but the GAA have shot themselves in the foot according to former Down footballer Aidan Carr.

The Clonduff native sees the positive aspects of the second-tier competition, but admits, as a player, it’s not where he would have wanted to play.

“It’s tough. If I had been playing now, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in it, but if county players want more football and they want to be playing at a level where it’s competitive then I think it’s a good idea.

“But the way the GAA has gone about, while they said a lot of good things at the start, the way they’ve launched it and changed it just before the draw, it leaves a lot to be desired.

“It has a lot of potential and could get buy-in from counties if they did it properly, but I don’t think the GAA have helped themselves.

“I don’t get it (the north and south split). Talking about travelling and stuff but it’s nearly just as if we’ll bucket them all in, we’ll get rid of half of them and make another decision once the first rounds done, then we’ll figure it out.

“I don’t understand the reasoning for it. There’s no harm in going down south and playing somebody different for a change.”

Like it or not, that’s where Down football is at the moment. And things didn’t get any easier when the draw was made, away to Cavan, the favourites to win the competition.

“Cavan played in Division Four this year, played quite well and lost one game against Tipperary, but they’re playing with confidence, and you can see it in their players.

“They’d a big year in 2020 winning Ulster and it’s the same core of players. They’ve added Paddy Lynch, he was brilliant in the League final and then has carried on into the championship.

“It’s a big addition to a team that has other scorers as well like (Thomas) Galligan, Gearóid McKiernan, James Smith, they’re all good players.”

If Down can spring a surprise, they’ll have to perform at their maximum to pick up their first victory of 2022, but Carr feels it’s “unlikely”.

“It’s been very disappointing, and it’s been very flat. From the start, James (McCartan) and Aidan (O’Rourke) took it on very late and given the news of the rumours at the time of (Conor) Laverty, Jim McGuinness and Marty Clarke and I think the county board potentially messed something up.

“James and Aidan pulled them out of a hole and with county nowadays, it takes a serious amount of preparation and coming in that late, I’d say Down were the last to have a manager sorted.

“Division Two was always going to be tough for Down. I thought, all going well, they could have stayed up at the start of the year, but it obviously didn’t work out that way.

“You always would have said on their day, Down could potentially beat anyone or given anyone a match in Ulster, but it’s not looking likely to be honest.”

READ MORE – Danny Hughes looks back on his Down career. Click here…

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