Caoibhe Sloan delighted by Down’s continued progress

The Mourne side have booked a place in the Ulster intermediate decider against Monaghan

Down joint manager Caoibhe Sloan
Down joint-manager Caoibhe Sloan (Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE)

DOWN’S impressive upward trajectory continues, with the Mourne county booking their place in the Ulster Intermediate Championship final on May 19 thanks to an 8-16 to 1-9 victory over Antrim.

It was a huge blow for the county when they were relegated from the intermediate grade to junior in 2022. However, under joint-managers Peter Lynch and Caoibhe Sloan, they bounced straight back after winning the All-Ireland junior title last August.

With solid foundations in place, and coming into the championship on the back of a good Division Three campaign, Down have been able to continue taking forward steps.

They probably didn’t know exactly where they stood amongst the others in a competitive provincial championship that included three Division Two teams in Tyrone – who have been promoted to Division One for next season – and Monaghan and Cavan, both former senior teams who have only come down in recent years

In addition, defending champions Antrim, although struggling this season, could not be taken for granted.

So far Down have taken everything in their stride, recording impressive wins over Cavan in the preliminary round Antrim in the semi-final, and will now face Monaghan in the decider in Clones.

The Mourne county recorded an emphatic success over the Saffrons, something joint-manager Caoibhe Sloan didn’t really see coming.

“It’s fantastic to be in an Ulster final,” she said.

“Especially when this intermediate provincial championship is so competitive.

“We definitely didn’t expect that, we remember only too recently how tight it was when we played Antrim in the league.

“We heard they had a few injuries lately but you always had in your head that they deservedly won Ulster last year and we are delighted, the girls went out just to play our game and hoped it was enough, and thankfully it was.”

Overall, the mangement set-up were happy with the performance but there is still plenty to work on ahead of the final against Monaghan.

“You have to be happy with that performance, it was a lot warmer than we thought it would be too, the girls really stepped up and responded well,” said Sloan.

“We always have things to work on and improve of course but a really positive day.”

Monaghan created a bit of a shoick be seeing off Tyrone in the other semi-final, although Sloan wan’t all that surprised.

“Nothing in championship football can surprise you I suppose,” she  said.

“Monaghan have a range of seasoned players who have been operating at the top table for quite some time. Their experience will stand to them.”