Morgan Fuels Down SFC
BRYANSFORD couldn’t be blamed for cursing the luck of the draw in this year’s Down championship. To pull Carryduff out of the hat in the first round was a tough enough ask, and tonight they face a Clonduff side with redemption on their minds at Pairc Esler (7.30pm).
Outside of county kingpins Kilcoo and contenders-in-chief Burren, Carryduff and Clonduff would have been up among most peoples’ fancied outsiders before a ball was thrown in.
Despite an inconsistent league showing, 2020 finalists Carryduff got the ball rolling on their championship campaign with a nine point victory over the ’Ford – their cause boosted by the second yellow card for David McKibbin, which saw the Newcastle men reduced to 14 for the final quarter.
Conor Deegan’s men have had to do a bit of soul-searching since, but so too have Clonduff after their shocking rout at the hands of the Magpies – the Yellas managing just four points as they went down by 14 in the end.
It was an outcome few could have predicted, and Bryansford coach John Fegan insists they won’t be putting too much stock in what materialised under the lights in Newry.
However, with Ross Carr, Paddy Branagan and John Boden all back from America and part of Ciaran McBride’s plans, Fegan is expecting a backlash from the Hilltown men as they bid to bury the memories of a fortnight ago.
“I was commentating on the game for DownGAA TV, and no-one would have seen that coming, but you get freak games like that sometimes,” said the Rostrevor native.
“Kilcoo just went through the gears as it wore on. Kilcoo gave us a trimming at the start of the year, and you’re then looking at yourself saying ‘how are we going to turn this game around?’ They’re All-Ireland champions for a reason.
“I did feel for Clonduff because they’ve got exceptional players. It’s a totally different team we’re going to be playing so there’s no point in us taking anything to do with that match but, definitely, their pride will be hurting, especially as that was against one of their rivals.
“They’re definitely going to be trying to put a marker down and show they’re better than they were against Kilcoo, because undoubtedly they are.
“All we can do is play our own game. The boys felt they didn’t do themselves justice the last day but if we do things right that we’ve been coaching the lads, and we play to our strengths, then the results will come.
“This is about getting across the way we want to play.”
In tonight’s other round 2A clash, Warrenpoint and Loughinisland will battle it out for a quarter-final spot when they meet in Kilcoo (7.30pm).
The ’Point proved too strong for Saul in their opening outing, with Adam Lynch keeping a close watch on Ruairi O’Hare before Aaron Magee’s goal early in the second half ended any lingering hopes of a comeback as Shane Mulholland’s men saw out the job.
Loughinisland are capable of providing a stiffer test, although they found it harder than most anticipated to see off a struggling Castlewellan side in Darragh Cross on the first night of championship action.
Indeed, it looked like the Town could be on for a shock when a Sean Hardy goal edged them in front, only for Loughinisland – aided by a Dean McLaughlin major – to steady the ship and seal their spot in the next round.