GAA Football

The pace of Mayo and Meath has killed us: Down boss Paddy Tally

Down manager Paddy Tally knows his side will face an uphill battle to stay in Division Two
From Brendan Crossan at The Athletic Grounds

Allianz National Football League Division Two North: Down 0-14 Meath 2-15

HUMBLED in the lashing rain, Down are staring relegation back to Division Three in the face after falling to a rampant Meath side at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.

For the second week running, the Mournemen couldn’t keep pace with former Division One sides Mayo and Meath but can still save themselves from the drop over the coming weeks as they prepare for a relegation play-off.

Standing at the mouth of the tunnel as the rain came down, Tally might have been tempted to bemoan his side’s meek performance – but it wasn’t going to be uttered into reporters’ tape-recorders.

Meath hit 2-3 in a blistering seven-minute spell in the second half that extinguished any hopes of Down making a comeback, with Meath’s in-form attacker Cillian O’Sullivan bagging both goals.

Asked if he could put his finger on Down’s poor start to yesterday’s clash, the Down boss said: “It is the pace of it. They are finding when you go up this level of football they are playing against the better teams.

“With Meath and Mayo there is a jump in the pace but they adapted to that really well. It just seemed early in the game Meath got a few scores and we didn’t and all of a sudden they are sitting three or four points up and you are really chasing the match.

“But in fairness I thought they really worked their way back into the game and by half-time it looked as if there wasn’t much in it, like it was an even battle, but then the goals were ultimately the difference.

“And the disappointing thing was that they came from our mistakes, we lost the ball on the ‘45 and hit us for a goal and then we lost another.”

Cory Quinn and Paul Devlin led the charge for Down on the scoreboard but there was a dearth of other scoring options.

Meath were simply too big, strong and savvy for their hosts yesterday. Although Down face Westmeath in their last round robin game, it’s their fourth game that carries infinitely more significance [against Cork, Laois or Kildare in Division Two South].

“The fourth game will decide your fate in the League,” Tally added, “and we have to make sure the players are fit and well. If it means resting certain players to give others game-time, that could be important.”

Meanwhile, Meath can look forward to a promotion semi-final play-off berth following back-to-back wins over Westmeath and Down.

“There were a lot of positives,” said Meath boss Andy McEntee. “When we were a man down in the first period [back card] we played really well and created a lot of chances and put some good moves together.

“In the second half we started well and turned them over in vital areas and really capitalised on the turnovers.”

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