Tally not picking between Reid and Burns

By Niall McCoy

DOWN manager Paddy Tally has said that he will not be appointing a first-choice goalkeeper as the Mourne county prepare for their crucial relegation play-off clash with Laois on Saturday evening.

A win against the O’Moore county at Páirc Esler is necessary if Tally’s men are to avoid an instant return to the third tier, but it remains to be seen who will be in nets.

Given the shortened nature of the season – Down’s year could end with just two more games played – the manager is happy to leave it as an open-ended question.

Rory Burns started in their loss to Mayo with Marc Reid taking over for the defeat to Meath. It was Burns who was back in situ for their round three Division Two North win over Westmeath, but Tally said that it wasn’t strict rotation and more a case of cutting his cloth accordingly.

“We’re very lucky that we have two really good ‘keepers,” said Tally. “Rory has been the ’keeper for the last few years really. Marc has come in and did really well against Meath.

“Westmeath we felt it was a game for Rory but it’s good to have two boys pushing on. They’re working hard.

“The week before a game you try and pick your team that will suit your opposition. You don’t always get that right. I thought Rory had an outstanding game (against Westmeath) but other days it doesn’t go your way.”

Down’s 0-13 to 1-9 win over Westmeath was important for a number of reasons. It was their first win of the season and it meant that they were handed the apparent easier tie, with Cork waiting in the wings had they drawn or lost.

Tally, however, is not taking the challenge of Mike Quirke’s side lightly, and used the example of Laois’s win in Newry two years ago as a warning.

“Absolutely it’s a game we are wary of,” he said. “The result against Westmeath gave the boys a lift but we knew this game is, and always has been, the game that was going to count.

“When Laois play well they can compete against the best. They have a lot of good players, a lot of players who have been around the block and have big-game experience against big teams.

“If you go back to that game two years ago we were well beaten.

“They know how to play the game. That night Donie Kingston really made the difference and he’s still there. Evan O’Carroll, I’ve seen him with UCD and he is a super footballer. Paul Kingston is another top player. They have a lot of good players.”

The win over Westmeath also pleased Tally as his side battled for the victory as the Leinster side came on strong in the final quarter.

Down have edged a number of tight games under Tally’s watch, and he was happy to see that trait reappear.

“There was a bit of realisation about the importance of the result and the players stood their ground and clung on.

“It’s vital that players can do that. We were disappointed that we weren’t able to do that against Cavan last year (Ulster semi-final).

“In the last 10 or 15 minutes the momentum had completely switched to Westmeath. They were playing at home, had a breeze behind them and we went to 14 (after Barry O’Hagan’s black card).

“We had our backs against the way but some of the play, especially offensively, demonstrated great character.”

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