Hurling & Camogie

Down have no fear for trip to Tralee to face Kerry

Manager Ronan Sheehan admits there is very little between the sides ahead of Sunday’s clash

Pearse Óg McCrickard was superb as  Down toppled Kerry at Ballycran on Saturday
Down came out on top when Kerry visited Ballycran for a League clash in February. The sides meet again on Sunday

Joe McDonagh Cup round two Kerry v Down (tomorrow, Austin Stack Park, 1pm)

DOWN will have “no fear” when travelling to face Kerry says manager Ronan Sheehan.

Sheehan’s side got their campaign off to a winning start against Meath and will be keen to make it two from two. Their recent history with the Kingdom will inspire a certain confidence inside the changing room, having beaten their Munster rivals in round two of the League on their way to reaching the Division 2A semi-final.

“To be fair there’s nothing much between ourselves and Kerry,” said Sheehan.

“I think we’ve played six times in the past three years and it’s three each between the two teams.

“There’s not an awful lot in it. Interestingly, the last time we beat Kerry at home in the League, we also went down there and beat them in the McDonagh Cup two years ago, so we’ll be going down there with no real fear.

“The last couple of times we’ve been down in Austin Stack Park we’ve performed very well; we lost by a point last year in the League and they got three scores in injury-time that got them ahead.

“The previous year when we went down there for the McDonagh Cup we actually won quite comfortably.

“Kerry are a very good team, but I think everyone would say that this is very much a 50/50 game and after both teams winning their first match, both teams will be going in confident and in good form and looking to put another two points on the board.”

Down’s first objective is always to secure their status and two points on the opening day will go a long way to achieving that.

“It was a very positive start; we were very pleased with how we started the campaign,” added Sheehan.

“It was a big victory for us. Every time we start off in the McDonagh Cup, our first priority is to get points on the board and try to secure safety first and foremost.

“We clearly aren’t safe yet, but those two points are a big step towards that because not only does it give us two points, but it also gives us the head-to-head over Meath and it gives us a good platform heading into the game against Kerry.”

Down racked up an impressive 3-24 in round one and have been scoring freely of late, having hit eight goals in their last four outings, although they failed to hit the net in their League semi-final defeat to Laois.

“We scored something like 3-17 from play (against Meath) which is outstanding, so we’d be very happy about that. Last year we didn’t really carry a goal threat at all but of course Daithi (Sands) was out of the country and so was Eoin (Sands).

“The two of them have made a massive difference. Tim Prenter has been outstanding as well for us this year and is a real goal threat with his pace and his power, so we’d be very happy with our goal threat.

“We created five chances last Saturday and took three of them. We were maybe a wee bit disappointed with the free count and the number of frees that Meath scored and that Meath were awarded.

“That’s been a bit of a focus this week. We felt that some of them were a bit harsh but some of them were definitely deserved and we need to tighten up on our tackling and also some of our technical aspects as well.”