McCrickard positive about Down hurling's future
By John Harrington
2019 has been a very positive year for Down hurling.
First their senior team qualified for the Christy Ring Cup Final, and now tomorrow their U-20 team will contest the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland ‘B’ Final against Kerry.
Ruairi McCrickard is a member of both panels and part of a generation of talented young Down hurlers who have emerged from the county’s well-organised underage structures.
“The work that has been put in over the last few years with development squads has been huge,” said McCrickard.
“The U-17 Celtic Challenge has been a big thing too for us. I played in it myself and got to a semi-final where we played South Kilkenny. Unlucky that day and we were missing a few boys too, but that sort of experience would give you a lot of belief to know you can compete with the Kilkennys and Corks.
“It was a big confidence booster and since then we've continued to progress nicely.
“Around half a dozen of our panel would have been on the senior panel too and a few other boys would have been knocking on the door.
“There's a lot of talented young hurlers in the county and it's good to see that there's a bright future for Down hurling. Hopefully with this U-20 panel we can bring a few more boys through and push it on.”
They’ll go into tomorrow’s Final as underdogs against a Kerry team bidding for a third All-Ireland title in a row at this grade, but McCrickard believes the Mourne men can cause a shock.
“We're feeling pretty confident, we have nothing to lose,” he said. “It would be a massive boost for hurling in the county if we could do it."