Down’s disappointment

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Down’s disappointment thumbnailDown halfback Caolan Mooney gets to the ball in front of his marker Thomas Flynn during Sunday’s National League clash at Pairc Esler. Photograph: Brendan Monaghan.

DOWN have it all to do and might need a few more favours after a disappointing defeat to Galway on Sunday.

While Galway was the better team for large periods, Down played into their hands both in performance and tactically by giving away cheap possession and by marking space in defence instead of assisting in attack.

Counterattacking teams mostly rely on either a target man winning possession and laying it on or by attacking with supporting runs. With Down on Sunday the tactic was to kick long to an isolated Barry O'Hagan and leave him to fight for possession.

Even against 14 men and trailing by five points, Down persisted on keeping men in defence marking no-one, and it did little to stop a rampant Galway, who won the midfield battle outright and had the power to plough through the Down defence.

It was frustrating to see so many men back when Down needed scores, but Mourne manager Eamonn Burns defended the tactics.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I suppose Galway are cute and they are good footballers and they use it quite well and they move the ball and they are strong in the tackle and bounce through the tackling with men coming off their shoulder," said Burns.

Once again kick outs were poor and this is something the Down management need to address. Be it lack of movement, poor kicking or being tactically naďve Sunday's performance wasn't up to scratch yet still Down were level at half-time.

“I suppose kick outs are a two-way street because you have the kicker and the receiver and if guys aren't moving for the kick out then you have problems," said Burns.

“We knew Galway were going to present problems as they kick long and into the field and we were going to have to compete and break for them and Kildare did the same the week before.

“But that is something we have to work on, we have what we have and we have got to make the most of it."

But it wasn't all bad, Barry O'Hagan's goal was a cracker, Ryan Johnston clipped over some sensational points and Peter Turley worked like a Trojan in the middle and if Down play to their attacking strengths they have a chance of beating Cork on Sunday.

Played in Pairc Esler Galway made the most of their wind advantage with Barry McHugh's 50-metre converted free and they doubled their lead before Darragh O'Hanlon got Down off the mark.

Both teams were without first choice full-backs as Benny McArdle replaced the injured Gerard McGovern and Declan Kyne came in for Galway's David Walsh.

Glenn's Shay Millar levelled the score but only briefly as Shane Walsh and the talented Gary Sice edged Galway ahead.

Down continued to kick long into O'Hagan and he got little joy, but of course he only has to break through once to do the damage.

And with 19 minutes gone, the sides were level again following two further points from Kilcoo's O'Hanlon.

Galway continued to have the ability to edge ahead each time, but Ryan Johnston displayed buckets of determination as well as silky skill when he persisted despite being surrounded and squeezed over a stunning point.


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