Down hurlers began their year in promising style, falling to Offaly in the
Walsh Cup by 4-13 to 2-11. A late Offaly goal
gave the score-line a gloss which does not do
justice to the Downmen’s fine efforts.
The match was played under
lights on an artificial pitch at Darver outside
Dundalk. Playing with a biting wind in the first
half, Offaly ran up a total of 2-12 against
the Down men’s rather poor-looking 1-4.
But in the second half Down
held Offaly to 2-1, the same points total as
Down had scored against the wind. The difference
was that Down forwards were not able to master
the tricky conditions as well as an Offaly team
which subsequently beat fancied Wexford a few
days later in the same competition.
Down’s defence was sound
throughout with Fintan Conway making an impressive
debut at full back and Ciaran Courtney settling
comfortably into the centre-half slot in front
Midfield failed to achieve
the dominance they needed at this level and
it may well be the end of the league campaign
before manager Jim McKernan finally decides
on his forwards.
Although the returning Paul
Braniff was impressive, former Fermanagh star,
Kevin McGarry, proved the best of a total of
the nine forwards who played some part in the
Down now travel to play Laois
next Sunday (February 3) in the Walsh Shield
semi-final. On last week’s performance,
they should travel in confidence.
Down: Graham Clarke, L Clarke,
F Conway, P Hughes, S Wilson, C Courtney, Gabriel
Clarke, A Savage, C Coulter (0-1 free), S Clarke
(0-5, 0-3 frees), B McGourty (Capt.), D Coffey,
B Ennis 1-1), P Braniff (0-1), P Coulter (1-0).
Subs: K McGarry (0-2) for Coffey (26 mins.),
RMcGrattan for C Coulter (43), M Ennis for G
Clarke (50), C Woods for McGarry (54), J Coyle
(0-1) for B Ennis.