Peter Turley has high hopes for Down's midfield partnership
National Football League Division One: Down v Kerry
(Sunday, Páirc Esler, 2pm, deferred coverage on TG4)
KERRY’S Colm 'Gooch' Cooper and Kieran Donaghy have been named on the bench for Sunday’s Division Two clash against Down in Pairc Esler.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice has indicated the duo will feature at some stage but he won’t risk starting without the midfield pairing of David Moran and captain Bryan Sheehan. Moran has been one of the best players in the country over the past 12 months but while Down will be acutely aware of the threat Moran poses, Down manager Eamonn Burns has something up his sleeve.
Burren midfielder Mark McKay is a player who has promised much at underage, and while he failed to set the world alight in last season’s Down Club Championship, he has impressed his team-mates having only joined the Down squad at the start of the season as his midfield partner tomorrow Peter Turley explained.
“Mark has been brilliant in training and he has been doing enough in training and during matches it would be impossible to leave him out. It will be a big day for Mark and hopefully he stays calm and does what he can do,” said Turley.
Turley featured in every one of Down’s National League games last season and has been ever-present in midfield since Burns took over from Jim McCorry. He believes players such as McKay, Ballyholland’s Joe Murphy, Clonduff’s Henry Brown and Barry O’Hagan have all added to the team in their first season with the Mourne county.
“I know every year people say the new boys are playing well but this year it really is the case because players such as Joe Murphy has come in and got a place in the Dr McKenna Cup and he has held onto it and he has been brilliant,” said Turley.
“You should come up and see some of our training sessions because some of the matches we are playing are of high intensity and none of the new boys are holding back at all they all want a place in the team and want to start and that is the way it should be. Boys like Joe and Henry Brown have been given a chance and they have taken it and the boys now know that if they play and train well then they will get their chance.”
While the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan have been ruled out through shoulder injuries, there will be two other sets of brothers starting. Burren’s Conail and Gerard McGovern will line out in defence, while Clonduff’s Darren and Barry O’Hagan are also brothers, with Barry starting on Sunday up front alongside the impressive Connaire Harrison.
Big Peter Turley’s brother Damian is also in the Down squad but has yet to start in the league since Burns has taken charge. Peter Turley will likely be given the task of limiting the influence of Moran and while he acknowledges that there is a sense of occasion when Kerry comes to Newry, the big picture doesn’t interest the Downpatrick midfielder, winning is all that matters.
With both Down and Kerry rotted the bottom of the table, Sunday’s clash is already a must win game, which only adds to the excitement: “You don’t get to play Kerry too often, I only got to play them once, when we were last in Division One,” said Turley
“They are a big team and big name but at the minute we really need points and that is what I am concentrating on. Even though it is Kerry I have to concentrate on my own performance and I am sure that is what everyone in the team will be doing.
“It is a game I am looking forward too, a packed Pairc Esler on a Sunday against Kerry and a win for Down will make it all the sweeter.”
Down: M Cunningham; L Howard, G McGovern, D O’Hagan; C McGovern, A Carr, D O’Hanlon; P Turley, M McKay; J Murphy, M Poland, K McKernan; C Maginn, C Harrison, B O’Hagan
Kerry: B Kealy; M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; P O’Connor, A O’Mahony, F Fitzgerald; D Moran, B Sheehan; A Walsh, P Murphy, D Walsh, D O’Sullivan, A Fitzgerald, S O’Brien; Substitutes: B Kelly, T Walsh, BJ Keane, C Cooper, K Donaghy, B O’Sullivan, P Kilkenny, P O’Sullivan, P Crowley, P O’Connor, D Daly