Lynch looking forward to another Ulster final

By Shaun Casey

DOWN are getting used to the big days out battling for the top prizes, and this Sunday they travel to Clones in search of an Ulster Intermediate title. Monaghan, playing on their home patch, stand in their way of earning back-to-back provincial crowns.

The Mourne ladies collected the Ulster Junior crown last year before picking up an All-Ireland title and after two impressive victories over Cavan and Antrim, now find themselves back in another decider.

It’s a balancing act of enjoying the big occasions but focusing on the job in hand and joint-manager Peter Lynch says his side have to relish the chance that Sunday provides.

“You enjoy them certainly. It’s something we tell players, not to get hung up on it too much in the week of a final, just enjoy the atmosphere around it and look forward to it,” said Lynch. “You don’t have to get too worried about things because occasions like this are to be enjoyed.

“A lot of your work is done at this stage. In the run up to a final you’re kind of dotting Is and crossing Ts and making sure you have all your bases covered as best you can. Then you’re trying to decide on your starting team.

“We’ve really had great competition for places, and it’ll come down to Thursday or Friday before we decide on who’s going to start the game and there’s always positions that are up for grabs.”

Down have been in fine form of late but Lynch, who takes the side with Caoibhe Sloan, is wary of the threat that Monaghan, who competed in a division higher in the league, pose this weekend.

“I suppose we’ve got a wee bit of a winning momentum going, it’s seven competitive games on the bounce we’ve won since Wexford beat us in the league,” added Lynch. “We won the next five and then these two championship games.

“It’s a good enough feeling to build up that momentum but I think we also understand that Monaghan present a serious problem for us. Monaghan have played a different grade of football for more than a decade.

“They were very competitive in senior and Division One for many years and I suppose they’re a more seasoned team even though they’ve got young players coming in now. Monaghan have that sort of calibre of players about them. We feel it’ll probably be the stiffest test we’ve got in championship football probably since we played Meath four years ago in Intermediate.

“That was a Covid year, and we played them out in Dunleer with no spectators. Meath beat us by two points that day and then went on to win the Intermediate and then back-to-back All-Ireland Seniors. We felt we were in a good place at that time, although Covid did really derail us a bit.

“We’ve kind of got ourselves back on track now but this will be the biggest test we’ve faced since back then so it’ll be revealing in that respect.”

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