Top spot on the cards for Mourne footballers

By Niall Gartland

DOWN are odds on favourites to cement a top-place finish as they gear up to take on Offaly at Kingspan Breffni in their third and final group stage match this Sunday.

Conor Laverty’s side have won both their matches to date while Offaly having nothing to show for themselves after successive losses to London (an upset if there was ever one) and Limerick.

Last year’s beaten finalists Down could only manage to finish second in the table last year, but this time around they should avoid the preliminary quarter-final stage, assuming that they’ll be too strong for Offaly.

Down were in ruthless form less than a fortnight ago when they travelled to Ruislip to take on London, swatting them aside with 17 points to spare at the final whistle. Daniel Guinness was the top scorer from play with six points to his name, Micéal Rooney wasn’t far behind him with five from play to his name, while Odhrán Murdock (1-1) and Pat Havern (0-6, 0-3f) also contributed handsomely to their victory on a scoreline of 1-24 to 0-10 as they avoided a potential banana skin.

Manager Laverty also used the game as an opportunity to give game-time to lads who hadn’t featured as prominently throughout the season, so in that sense it was a very useful exercise in every respect.

Offaly are in dire straits at the minute, losing heavily at home on their first day out to London and things didn’t get any better against Limerick. The Munster side claimed their year-long wait for a win of any description as they carved out a deserved 2-10 to 0-8 win, and it’s hard to see Offaly’s fortunes changing for the better against a Down side with their sights firmly set on going all the way in the Tailteann Cup.

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