Derek Dunne happy with tough last eight clash with the Rebels
“PERFORMANCE all the way!” That is what Down manager Derek Dunne is looking from his Down side in this weekend's Littlewoods National League quarter-final tie against Cork.
“I'm delighted with the draw. It is a hard match and we need a hard match at this stage because we are on the run in to the championship.
“We are going to be on the road for every game in the championship and we want to get our best performances in to the championship games.
“So a trip to O'Moore Park is a great opportunity for us. We need to be preparing all week for the game, eating right, getting our journey times correct, stop offs, everything. And after that we will have a hard game with Cork.”
Cork defeated Down in Croke Park in the 2018 Intermediate All-Ireland but the Mourne county has improved significantly since that outing and themselves eclipsed the Intermediate crown last December.
“We have played Cork since 2018, but I wouldn't read a lot into that game. It was early in the 2019 league and we were without the Clonduff girls because they were running for the All-Ireland club title at the time.
“We lost 0-8 to 0-5. But, as I said, I wouldn't read a lot into that. It was winter hurling and an early league match. The ground is hard now and a totally different game.”
Dunne admits that he tried out a couple of things against Antrim in the opening league game and the gamble failed. But he also paid tribute to Antrim.
“I watched them at the weekend against Derry. Their movement, their conditioning, confidence and belief in themselves – all those things shone through for me. They are a serious outfit and have come on a lot from last December.
“We didn't play badly against them. If we had taken just half the chances we created we would have won. But I wouldn't take anything away from that victory.
“Some things we tried against them worked, others didn't. Same against Derry although we got a result there.
“We have put in a number of serious sessions over the last ten days. You can do that if you have an idle week and I believe we are in a good place as we head down to Portlaoise.
“We split the senior and junior panels, brought along a couple of the juniors and there may well be a couple of surprise selections by the weekend. The girls know there are a couple of places up for grabs and they have worked really hard.”
Against Derry, Down probably conceded too many fouls and were punished by Karen Kielt's accuracy from the dead ball while the half-forward line did not track back with the intensity they did against Antrim in their previous two games.
“It is summer hurling this year and there is a high work-rate demanded in hot conditions. I don't want to say that the result against Cork doesn't matter. It does. But we are asking for a big performance and the more involvement we have over the remaining games in the league, the better preparation we have for the championship.”