It’s always good to get a win in your first league match of the year… a nice reward for the player’s efforts they put in during pre season writes Barry McConville.
Down Ladies travel to Tuam this coming Sunday for an encounter with the Connaught champions Galway. Down will have put any first match nerves behind them with a good win over Meath in Newry last week, while Galway’s opener against Kildare was called off due to the weather.
There were a few new and not so new faces on the Down squad last week with Jordan Magee making her first competitive start with Down Senior Ladies and looking like she had been there for years, playing with great confidence.
Aileen Pyres and her Annaclone club mate Eliza Downey have returned after their sabbaticals, and along with Jess Foy they played an instrumental role in Down’s win over Meath at the weekend.
Outstanding for Down though was their new keeper, Ballymartin’s Sinead Brannigan. Sinead has been with the Down Senior panel for a number of years but this is her first year in the No.1 jersey. She spoke of her new role in the Down squad and said: “I’m enjoying being the new keeper, it’s a new challenge for me, but with the new role comes new responsibilities, which you don’t appreciate until you’re standing between the posts yourself!
“I thought the Meath game went well from a personal perspective, I was happy with my performance overall, and delighted from a team perspective we came away with the win. But we still have a lot more to give so it’s onwards and upwards for Down!”
Down manager Myles Cahill has a quality line up in the backroom team with Mark Copeland, Ryan McShane and Diane O’Hora. Mark Copeland has been with the Down Ladies for a number of years, as well as being part of the coaching team with last year’s very successful Kilcoo Senior men’s team, where he will again be taking a coaching role in 2014, while balancing all this with his day job at the Southern Regional College, where he has also guided their Gaelic Football teams to All Ireland success’.
Mark took some time out of his busy schedule to speak of the upcoming encounter with Galway. He said: “It’s always good to get a win in your first league match of the year; it’s a nice reward for the player’s efforts they put in during pre season. It was a typical early season game with both teams being guilty of making a few mistakes, but both teams also showed what they are capable of this season with some great passages of play.
“Meath are a strong team and we expect them to take points off a few teams in this division, so we won’t get carried away with this win. This division is littered with top quality teams and non come any better than Galway in their own back yard. Beaten last year in the div 2 final, and by Monaghan in the All Ireland Senior series semi final, they have shown they can constantly compete with the top teams in Ireland.
“For Down to progress and develop from last year it is important to be playing teams like Galway, Clare and again the All-Ireland Intermediate Champions, Cavan, that’s the level Down want to reach, so there’s no point in shying away from it.
“The players will be looking forward to this chapter in their playing careers and have no fear of playing teams like Galway. They know that they have the ability, belief and work ethos to be able to surprise a few teams in this division this year.”
Galway v Down : Sunday 9 February, Tuam Stadium, Tuam. 2pm.