“We were well below our standard...” Conor Laverty happy to win but expects better from Down

Mournemen get past Antrim in disappointing Ulster Championship quarter-final in Newry

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Conor Laverty was disappointed by his team's performance against Antrim. Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)

CONOR Laverty chose his words very carefully. His team won and he said he’d have taken that before the game but Down were anything but convincing.

They were solid enough in defence but the quality Laverty wanted to see in attack didn’t materialise and if Antrim had been able to take their chances in the second half… Down would have been in serious trouble.

The Down manager expected an awful lot better from his players and gave a very honest assessment of the game after the four-point win.

“When people talked about Derry-Dublin they said it was a great game for the neutral to watch – I’m sure there wasn’t too many neutrals impressed with that game,” he said.

“I thought it was just a poor standard and it’s not something that is acceptable, I feel, for the level of talent we have in this team.

“Antrim set up with a deep block and defended narrow and we knew they were going to come with that and we put a lot of practice into how to deal with that but as a group and for me as manager we have to find better ways to dealing with that.”

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Liam Kerr on the attack in Down's four-point win against Antrim. Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)

A player from either side was booked before the throw-in over the row as Down ran through Antrim at the end of the pre-match parade behind the band. Before the start of the second half one of the Antrim mentors was red-carded for a half-time incident.

But the match failed to find a spark when the ball was in play.

“Antrim were well within their rights to bring a wee bit of an edge to it and I thought at the start there was going to be fireworks throughout the game but it wasn’t long before they went out of it,” said Laverty.

“I felt we matched them physically quite well but… there’s many different words I could use for it. I’m trying to use my words… delicately.

“It just wasn’t the level of performance that this team aspires to get to and it’s not the reason I took the job. I feel that there’s quality in Down, I feel we have a talented bunch of players and we were well below our standard there. That’s as honest as I can call it, I just felt we had areas to learn from Croke Park (Division Three final) and we didn’t deliver on that which is disappointing.”

Unconvincing as it was, as Laverty said Down are “still in the hat” but they will need much better in the semi-final if they are to stay in it.

“If you had have said that we’d come away with a win (before the start) I would have took it,” said the Down manager.

“The next day out is going to be a colossal battle. I’m not delusional, I understand where this team’s at – this is a young team and it’s growing all the time and it’s learning from those days in Croke Park and the experience but I want to win – we want to win games and be competitive with the best teams in Ireland but we know in Armagh or Fermanagh the challenge that lies ahead.

“They’re well down the road in their development of their team. We’ll get back to work tomorrow (Sunday) and get the lads recovered well and get onto the pitch later in the week and start planning for whoever comes out of Brewster.”