Thursday 23 March 2017

McCartan defends decision to take off McComiskey

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Down manager James McCartan has shed light on the confusion over the substitution of Paul McComiskey in the All-Ireland final.

The forward played well and contributed three points from play before being taken off after 56 minutes, leading to a heated debate between McCartan and his selectors.

But the Burren man played down the incident as he prepared to head back to Newry yesterday.

"We had a strategy as regards time of substitutions," he explained. "We talked about it for a couple minutes. Substitution B went in instead of substitution A. It wasn't a major thing.

"It was the timing of it and it wasn't a factor. The substitution was going to be made anyway. It was maybe a minute of a difference from what I wanted done. It is not an issue.

"I would love to be able to turn around and blame something for us losing that All-Ireland but it is fair to say that is not it.

probing

"Obviously you are probing here and thinking it was a mistake to take the man off.

"The role that we are asking players to play in the half-forward line involves a lot of work. Fifteen minutes into the first half Danny Hughes was knackered so we put him into the corner and pulled Paul out.

"So the role we are asking them to play involves a lot of work. Everyone knows that Conor Maginn is coming on, everyone knows that Nicholas Murphy was coming on and Derek Kavanagh and Colm O'Neill and Ronnie Murtagh.

"You just try to change things and obviously you don't want to take a man off that is playing exceptionally well but you do want to change things because you are losing the game and you want to ask a different set of questions of the opposition.

"I think that is the only way I can answer that question."

McCartan defended his decision not to change his struggling midfield earlier than he did.

"The realisation hits home, Cork were the better team on the day," he said.

"We have to hold our hands up and admit that, but at the same time we might have pulled off one of the greatest bank robberies of all time if we had managed to win that game on the limited possession that we were getting.

"We knew what the problem was but at the same time we reckoned our best footsoldiers were in there.

"When you think that you have your best out there, we could maybe have varied our kick-outs a wee bit more and that's the thing that sort of rakes with me today."

The moment when Down greeted their opponents at the end of their lap of honour has been much remarked upon, but McCartan (pictured below) warned against using it as an advertisement for keeping fans off the pitch. "I have mixed feelings about that now," he said. "Because I don't want the GAA to use that as a tool to ensure there are no more pitch incursions.

"It was an instinctive thing. In hindsight I maybe would have wished it was a private thing and maybe I could have taken one dressing-room into another dressing-room.

"I don't want the GAA to use that as some sort of tool to ensure there aren't any more pitch incursions because it wasn't meant to be something that was public. It was an instinctive thing.

"It was a genuine thing. We wanted to lose graciously. Down always felt that whenever we won in the past we did it with a sense of respect for the team we had played and I just probably wanted to go that extra mile."

Irish Independent

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