GAA Football

Stalwart Peter Turley wishes Paddy Tally well after Down curtain call

Peter Turley has been a stalwart for Down over the past decade. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

LONG-SERVING midfielder Peter Turley admits it “wasn’t easy” to hear that he didn’t figure in Paddy Tally’s Down plans after the curtain came down on his 10-year inter-county career.

The Galbally man is at the beginning of a rebuilding process in Down, starting against Laois in Division Three this weekend, and has opted to go with youth as the Mournemen bid to bounce back from last year’s relegation.

Although it was tough news to take, Turley is adamant there are no hard feelings and has backed the Galbally man to bring the good times back to the Mourne County.

“Ah, it wasn’t easy to get it, but everybody has to get it at some stage. Paddy wanted to go with the youth this year and I’m fine with that,” said the RGU Downpatrick clubman, who made his debut in a McKenna Cup clash with Antrim in his home town back in 2008.

“I’m 35 now, it is time for the younger boys to come in, but it’s never nice to hear it. I wished Paddy good luck and I hope everything goes well, I really do.

“It’s always been an honour to play for Down, that’s why I said if I was needed I was available. There’s a lot of ex team-mates in there and a couple from the club, and I think Paddy’s the right man to take them forward.

“I totally understand why he’s doing it, and there are no hard feelings whatsoever. He needs to introduce boys to get a bit of extra experience - they’re in Division Three this year so it’s the best place for them to learn and get the taste for it.

“He does have a big transition and that’s why I was thinking I could’ve helped that along but time catches up with everyone I suppose.

If there’s anybody good enough it’s Paddy and hopefully it’s not too long before they’re back playing Division Two football at least.”

Turley may have been one of the elder statesmen on the Down panel but he was still a key figure in recent years, turning in some superb performances during the Mourne County’s unexpected run to the 2017 Ulster final.

Fittingly, in what turned out to be his last appearance in the red and black, Turley was one of Down’s best performers as they bowed out of the 2018 Championship following a tempestuous qualifier clash with Cavan.

Although there mightn’t be any silverware to show for it other than the McKenna Cup won in his debut season, Turley looks back on his inter-county days with pride and values the friendships made along the way.

“I’ve been lucky enough with injuries - I haven’t really had anything serious that set me back, and I do believe that if you look after yourself in the gym and eat well, there’s no reason you can’t play until you’re 35 or 36.

“Look at Vinny Corey with Monaghan, he’s a year older than me and he’s still playing – and playing well. It can be done if you have the hunger for it.

“Obviously I didn’t win anything of note but I’ve made a lot of great friends and that’s the brilliant thing about the GAA; the friends you make, and they’ll be friends for life.

“I’m glad I did it. There are no regrets at all.”

DOWN WITHOUT THREE KEY MEN FOR LEAGUE OPENER

DOWN will be without three key men for Saturday night’s National League opener against Laois in Newry.

Kevin McKernan, Darren O’Hagan and Ryan Johnston are all serving one-game suspensions, leaving the trio unavailable to new boss Paddy Tally as he aims to get off to a winning start in Division Three.

Johnston was shown a straight red card 21 minutes from the end of Down’s qualifier exit to Cavan last June, while O’Hagan saw red following the melee that unfolded after that game. 

McKernan, meanwhile, accumulated three black cards - against Meath (during the National League) and in the Championship games against Antrim and the Breffnimen – and misses Saturday’s date with the O’Moore men.

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