Momentum is with Down but Carlow can spoil the party says Paddy Tally
PROMOTION is in Down's hands with two games to go but manager Paddy Tally has vowed his team “won't take their eye off the ball” as the Division Three finishing post comes into view.
The Mournemen did what they had to do on Saturday night by beating Offaly by eight points and results elsewhere went in their favour to leave them two points clear at the top of the table.
Next up is a trip to Netwatch Cullen Park to face Carlow on March 16 but after the Barrowsiders' derailed promotion-chasing Louth on Saturday night, circumspect Tally expects his side to have to fight all the way to the line.
“There is momentum now,” said Tally after his men had won their fourth game on-the-trot.
“Winning is a great thing and it breeds confidence as well. It's like losing, you could end up in a rut losing matches and you don't know where to go but at the minute these boys have the wind behind them and they are going at it.
“All we can look for is the next match and it'll be a tough one too, Carlow turned over Louth down there and that just shows you what can happen so we'll not be taking our eye off the ball, we'll be working hard over the next fortnight to get ready for that match.
Tally's side looked well-drilled and were full of running against the Faithful County. Cory Quinn grabbed the headlines with two second half goals and was one of several players who made an impact after coming off the bench on Saturday night.
“It has been the pattern so far and the boys we've been bringing off the bench have been making a significant impact,” he said.
“Ceilum Doherty did really well, Owen McCabe came in for his debut and pulled a couple of balls out of the clouds and Conor Maginn's experience is very good as well.
“You to give these lads a chance and that's part of what we're doing, we're trying to build a team for the future as well. I thought the boys that came off the bench made a big impact - the lads who are training really well do get a chance, when they're showing good form in training they're carrying it into the games.”
The Down youngsters have been able to settle into a winning side thanks to the form of the experienced men in Tally's team. Donal O'Hare (0-6), Caolan Mooney (0-2) and Kevin McKernan, Jerome Johnston and Darren O'Hagan (0-1 each) supplied 11 of Down's 12 points on Saturday night and Mooney, McKernan and O'Hagan were also mainstays in a cohesive defensive display.
“That bit of solidity at the back has been very important with Kevin and Darren and Caolan,” said Tally.
“They've been around the block and the know how to play those games but I just love the energy of the young players too. I think that the youth coming in has given us a really good lift. A lot of those boys are coming in and they are really giving it a good lift and the experienced lads are getting back to where we want them.”
After the trip to Carlow, Down's final game is against Louth at home and the Mourne boss has called on the county's fans to come out and support their county.
“It would be nice,” he said.
“It would be nice for the players.
“Division Three is not glamorous for a lot of people to watch games, so maybe the key for this team is to push on ahead and show that they can play at a higher level and that's what we're looking towards.”