Wednesday, February 1, 2023


WHEN Mickey Donnelly joined Conor Lavertyʼs management team there was a general view that it was a good appointment and, following a second win in five days, he was clearly very satisfied after victory over Donegal. “Morale boosting is probably a good way of describing [the Donegal game] but we now have three weeks running in to Semple Stadium where we play Tipperary in the league so itʼs good to have another game next week.” He says the focus ahead of the McKenna Cup has been a ʻnext-matchʼ approach. “The focus for us was on winning games. Itʼs about trying to win the next match. We had a massive focus leading into the Monaghan game that we really wanted to win that game because we had invested a good wee bit of time in the group and a lot of the lads had been putting their hands up. “We really wanted to come out of Castleblayney with a win and the cliches are true, what do you do? “You focus on the next game you want to win it and then you focus on the next game and you want to win it. “This group have got to get used to winning games and I suppose thatʼs where they havenʼt been in a Down jersey so itʼs important that every time they pull a Down jersey on itʼs important to win a game.” Although he was slightly concerned by the seven minute first half spell that saw Donegal score 1-4, Mickey pointed to the Down retort as a huge positive. “[Having gone through that period] the flip side of that is we responded really well after that. “You know, to go in at half time five up after being really put to the pin of your collar, I think that was a really good response and thatʼs what we would prefer to reflect on as a management team, that they showed a bit of steel and a wee bit of resilience instead of maybe fading away which was easy to do at that stage of the game.” On joining the Down management and teaming up with Conor Laverty Donnelly reflected: “I am loving it. “Iʼve no problem saying it, Conor is brilliant to work with, heʼs infectious, heʼs an exceptionally passionate man about his club and his county and itʼs just great. “We are all learning, weʼre learning from him, hopefully heʼs learning wee bits and pieces from us, but its great, Iʼm loving it.” Donnelly though is under no illusion that tougher tasks lie ahead. He confirmed: “The lads are all working as hard as they possibly can because weʼre all very aware where we are at, we are in Division Three of the National League, in a very tough Division and people will be blasé and palm it off that you will do this and that and the other, getting out of Division Three wonʼt be easy. “Youʼve two teams who won Provincial Championships in the last two years in it and Westmeath already won the Tailteann Cup last season and youʼve local derbies with Fermanagh and Antrim on top of that, itʼs a minefield, it really is.” Tough games they may be but, with a Down side playing with a renewed energy, eagerness, expansiveness and enthusiasm, they are games the Down faithful will be looking forward to.

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