Tally hopes Down can spring a surprise
By John Harrington
Down football manager, Paddy Tally, hopes that this year the Ulster Championship continues its long and proud tradition of throwing up surprise results
His team are considerable underdogs going into Sunday’s preliminary round tie against Donegal and he’s all too aware of the size of the challenge, but he still believes his team have a chance of victory.
“Every game is different, there's nothing been decided upon yet,” said Tally. “This is a Championship match and the Ulster Championship throws up surprises sometimes as well.
“One thing we want to be against Donegal is competitive. We know if we can do that we've a chance. But ultimately we have to ensure that we perform well and there has to be an intensity and high level of work-rate among the Down players on Sunday. Donegal are vastly experienced, we know that, we're no fools.
“When you think of what Donegal have achieved since 2012/2013, they have so many experienced players. They also have introduced a number of exciting younger players. It's not the Donegal of old, because if you look at the forward line you have Oisin Gallen, Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson.
“There's three young fellas and they really are super players. You've also young O'Donnell at centre-forward, so four young boys mixed in with Paddy McBrearty and a couple of older players
“Donegal have it a lot of way. Not just in terms of experience, they have a lot of really good young players as well. I think Donegal have a really good mix at the moment and we know it's going to be a serious game and a serious challenge for us."
Down’s chances of springing an upset in the Ulster SFC preliminary round have been hampered by the loss of influential midfielder, Johnny Flynn, to injury.
“We lost Johnny Flynn at training last Thursday night, Johnny had an ankle injury, just a bit of a freak one that sounds like an Achilles tendon,” says Tally.
“He was on a run and felt something pulling back on his leg so he's off for an MRI scan but it looks like an Achilles which will take time to heal.
“Unfortunately Johnny is going to be out for a while.
“It's disappointing for ourselves and, more importantly, it's disappointing for Johnny, it's come at a really bad time for him to get an injury like that.
“It opens up a door for someone else. It's an opportunity for someone else to step up on the field of play, you always try to bring the positives out of it.
“Listen, with Johnny or without Johnny it's going to be a massive task against Donegal. No matter what happens we're going to have to play out of our skin on Sunday and that's the challenge that's ahead of us.”