Down championship race will go right to the wire says Burren boss Jim McCorry
SUNDAY night’s dramatic quarter-final wasn’t decided until deep into injury-time and Burren manager Jim McCorry predicts that race for the Frank O’Hare Cup will go exactly the same way – right to the wire.
McCorry’s Burren recovered from losing a three-point lead at the death against Mayobridge by going on the attack and scoring a major of their own in injury-time and the composure and spirit they showed to clinch a victory they deserved sets the 2018 champions up nicely for the semi-finals battles to come.
Defending champions Kilcoo remain the team to beat in the Down championship but the Magpies have been pushed all the way this year by Mayobridge, then Clonduff (also semi-finalists) and then Carryduff in last Saturday’s extra-time thriller.
“We’re not looking any further forward than the semi-final in two weeks’ and we know it’ll be another game that will go right to the wire,” said former Armagh and Down manager McCorry.
“That’s just championship football and Down is very competitive. In Division One there are six sides that could win the league or the championship in any given year. Kilcoo are the top team but there are other teams that are coming strong and pushing them on.
“There have been some fantastic games. Look at the earlier games with Mayobridge and Kilcoo and Clonduff-Kilcoo…
“When it comes to championship time there’s a new lease of life in Down – I suppose there is in every county – but it’s so competitive in Down, you can’t take your foot off the pedal at all or you’ll get caught out.”
Much of the pre-match discussion had centred around Burren’s route to the quarter-finals which had come courtesy of wins over Division Two sides Saul and Glenn. In what was viewed as their first ‘real test’, McCorry’s men were the better team in the first half and they led by six points at half-time.
But their mettle was tested throughout the second half and at the death when Mayobridge equalised thanks to Aaron Magee’s goal, Burren’s answer was to break the length of the field and Odhran Murdock slotted home a cool winner.
“The one thing that I admired about our guys was that, whenever that has happened to previous teams, they have disappeared and lost matches,” said McCorry.
“They felt there was more resilience in them to come back again and that was the important bit, they didn’t give up and fought right to the end.
“But we had been tested before. Glenn’s forward line is as good as any in Division One. They have (Mattie) Bagnall, the two Millers (Shay and Ronan) young (Jack) McCartan, who is a fantastic footballer for the future in Down, and Niall McParland in midfield. So they are a very strong side.
“Saul have Pierce Laverty and some very good footballers. Maybe because we scored a lot in those games, people would think we weren’t tested but we certainly were in parts of them. Obviously this was a bigger test, it was always going to be a tough test and I’m glad we came through it.”
Half-forward Liam Kerr was the star of the show for Burren on Sunday night with half-a-dozen excellent points. Murdock popped up with the winning goal and veteran Kevin McKernan, operating at full-forward, contributed two points.
“Kevin is a fantastic footballer – he has a great brain,” says McCorry.
“We have some great young footballers coming through in Burren but in any team you need that blend of experience and Kevin and Donal O’Hare bring that.
“He is playing very well this year wherever we play him – we’ve played him in midfield, I the half-forward line and at full-forward. You cut him and he’d bleed green and white, he’s Burren through-and-through and he’s a great leader for the young fellas.”