Down footballers primed for trip to Ruislip

By Niall Gartland

BOTH Down and London claimed 14-point victories in their first Tailteann Cup outings of the year, so both camps will be high on confidence ahead of their meeting at Ruislip this Saturday.

Conor Laverty’s Down side claimed a comfortable victory over Limerick last weekend, a professional performance that saw them get back on the wagon after they came so close to upsetting the odds against Armagh in the Ulster Championship semi-final.

Down were in complete control from start to finish with Daniel Guinness, Pierce Laverty and Ryan McEvoy producing top-class performances.

Among the others to impress was Odhrán Murdock, who was stationed in the full-forward line for much of the contest and did extremely well.

London were arguably the story of the weekend, however, claiming a stunning victory over Offaly and with plenty to spare on the scoreboard.

It marked their first victory in championship football in 11 years, and now they can look forward to a home tie against the Mourne men.

It was described as a “traumatic, humiliating and embarrassing” defeat by the Offaly Express, but credit must also go to the Exiles for producing a statement performance.

They’ve been managed by Michael Maher for the last five years, and if you looked carefully enough, there were certainly signs of progression, for example losing to a fancied Sligo side in extra-time in the knock-out Tailteann Cup two years ago.

Their star man against Offaly last weekend was Ciaran Diver, who racked up a personal tally of 1-5, but they’re by no means a one-man band and you’ll be familiar with another Donegal man in their ranks, Gaoth Dobhair’s Michael Carroll.

This is a potential banana skin for Down but it would still be a considerable shock if they don’t get the job done and take a significant step towards finishing top of the table ahead of their third and final group stage match against Offaly, which would ensure their safe passage to the last-eight without the inconvenience of a preliminary quarter-final.

They should have enough to spare but it won’t be played at exhibition pace, that’s for sure.

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