Caolan Mooney will be fit for Down's Ulster SFC clash with Armagh

Caolan Mooney will be fit for Down's June 4 clash with Armagh Picture by Philip Walsh
By Brendan Crossan

DOWN manager Eamonn Burns last night declared star defender Caolan Mooney fit to face Armagh in their Ulster Championship opener on June 4.

Mooney looked as though he would be ruled out of the eagerly anticipated derby due to a knee injury – but Burns revealed the flying wing-back will be ready to go.

Speaking at last night’s Ulster Championship launch at the City Hotel in Derry City, Burns said: “Caolan Mooney had a knee injury and that’s moved on greatly and we’re delighted with that.

“He’s back out running on the field, so there’s nothing to stop him.”

Mooney was carried off the pitch in a club game for St Bronagh’s, Rostrevor in early April and although the subsequent scan didn’t reveal any serious damage, it seemed June 4 would be too soon for the former AFL player.

“He damaged the front of his knee but it didn’t turn out as serious as we first thought,” said Burns.

“He was running last night and he’ll be back out on Friday. He’s grand.”

Mooney quit the panel after sending Burns a text message in the early stages of last year’s League campaign but the 24-year-old returned to the fold in 2017 and was one of Down’s better performers as they saved themselves from relegation on the last day of their Division Two campaign.

Asked about the importance of Mooney (pictured) ahead of their Championship campaign, Burns added: “All the players are important, but Caolan had a particularly good League campaign and we’re happy he’s back on the field again.

“We’re in the middle of domestic leagues at the minute and we’ve picked a couple of knocks, tight hamstrings and that, but they’re nothing major. So we’re happy enough going forward,” said the Down manager.

Burns also praised the impact new boy Alan Davidson has made on the Down panel in his first season involved.

The former Ballymena United soccer player, once linked with a move to the Antrim senior football squad, has added much-needed scores and a certain degree of swagger to the Mourne attack this season.

“Alan [Davidson] is a scoring forward and started in some of the earlier games and came on in some of the later games and did well whenever we put him onto the field,” said Burns.

“Sunday June 4 will be a new experience for him but he’s working hard and he’s showing good form with his club [Bredagh] and showing good form at training.

“I’m not really too sure what level he played soccer at but he fits into the scene very well and nothing seems to worry him, and he’s well put together in terms of his physical make-up and in terms of his mentality and approach to games. He’s very able and adept at that level.”

At a very well attended launch last night, Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath made an impassioned appeal from the podium for the GAA to retain the Inter-Provincial competition [Railway Cup].

“I would like to use this opportunity for the GAA to take another very serious look at the competition and it’s value and potential,” said McGrath, who managed the Ulster team last year.

“And I know working with the players in 2016 they were committed to it and it was a wonderful occasion. I think it would be a mistake to hand over the provinces completely to rugby.”

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