Down back in business

Down back in business

14 October 2020

DOWN will go up against Leitrim this Saturday afternoon in the Allianz National Football League in Newry as the inter-county GAA scene makes its comeback against an unfamiliar back.

The Division 3 clash will be played behind-closed-doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Down will look to continue what has been a largely positive league campaign thus far.

Going into the match, the Mournemen sit second in the table, three points behind pace-setters Cork, who have won all five of their games. 

Leitrim, on paper, should not pose too much in the way of a problem — they are seventh in the eight-team division, and Down are tipped to come through this one fairly comfortably.

Paddy Tally’s men were in good form before the lockdown six months ago. They defeated Offaly 0-17 to 0-9, before overcoming Longford 2-13 to 1-14.

Cork are probably out of sight as far as winning the division is concerned. However, Down are currently ahead in the battle with Longford for second place and promotion to Division 2.

The six-month break has robbed Down perhaps of that momentum which they had built-up. It has allowed opponents who may have been low in confidence, time to regroup. We will find out at the weekend if that has made a difference. 

Tally is pleased that Down will be back in action. “It is great to be back,” he said. “We’ve really been looking forward to resuming again. There is a bit of apprehension there too, I suppose. That would only be natural after seven months away.”

The manager said he is looking on the positives as at one stage it had looked like there may be no action in 2020.

“I did believe when we saw how bad things were around spring time, we may not have got any games this year,” he admitted.

“However the club season proved to be such a great success, and I think it gave everyone 

a boost when it was so badly needed.

“It was so important that the club season went ahead. A lot of those games went right to the wire and they were great entertainment too. It is a credit to the teams involved.”

Tally says he hopes his Red and Blacks can pick up from where they left off before the lockdown. 

“We were in a good place back in March. I thought we had given ourselves a great chance. The team had been performing well.

“We know that everyone will be making us favourites for this one, but it’s our job as the management to guard against that complacency. We know Leitrim are fighting for their lives and they will be doing all in their power to get a result.

“But one thing is for sure, there’ll be no complacency amongst our players. All the players in the squad are ready to push on hard.”

The GAA are waiting for an update from the Northern Ireland Executive on crowd restrictions but the Association’s Director of Player, Club and Games Administration Feargal McGill confirmed over the weekend that the Allianz League ties scheduled for the next two weekends 

will be played behind closed doors.

The remaining fixtures in the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues are expected to go ahead as planned.

Following this weekend’s game, Down are scheduled to travel to Louth on Sunday, October 25.