By Shaun Casey
FINALS don’t come along every year, and Down are trying to strike the balance between enjoying the occasion and focusing on the task at hand says joint manager Caoibhe Sloan.
The Mourne ladies face Fermanagh, who they drew with earlier in the competition, and are looking forward to competing in the Ulster final.
“This is what we’ve always talked about and that’s what we said to the girls this week, everybody plays for when the ground gets hard, and the sun comes out and this is what all the long winter slog was for,” said Sloan, who manages the team alongside Peter Lynch.
“You enjoy football at this time of year a wee bit more I suppose and when it’s a final, that really tops it off. It’ll be an enjoyable week.
“Anytime you’re in a final it’s a good thing and it’s a great experience for the girls and another step in the process for us in our own development.
“We’ve said from our very first challenge match away back at the start of the year to prepare for that as if it’s a final because when it comes to a final then, as we’ve found in the past, if you’re not preparing the same way for every game then it’ll be too much of a culture shock to you and you’re not able to deal with the pressure.”
When Down clashed with Fermanagh during the group stages of the Ulster Junior Championship, the sides couldn’t be separated, drawing 1-4 to 0-7.
Sloan expects Saturday’s showdown to be just as evenly contested.
“It was a real tight game that last one, so we’ll be up for a big challenge. We got to see each other, and we got to see how even the teams are,” added Sloan.
“That draw and the things that we did in terms of our own game management and in terms of how the game went, there was very little between the teams and it’s just going to be about who has learned and who has evolved from the last time.
“There’s no telling on paper how this one will go. We’re delighted with how our preparation has gone in the last few weeks from that game and how the girls have knuckled down and worked hard.
“Anytime there’s a final there, it’s there to be won and the girls are knuckling down and preparing for that.”