McCartan eager to dampen Down hype after slaying 13-man Kildare
It's not too often a manager wishes his players hit a few more wides and James McCartan may have had his tongue ever so slightly in his cheek when voicing that thought.
But so impressive were Down in completely dismantling 13-man Kildare at St Conleth's Park yesterday, that the manager was aware of the potential for expectations to go into overdrive.
"The gloss that was put on it in the end; sometimes as a manager you prefer that those balls went wide and you'd have won by four, three, two or one because some people start hyping it up" he asserted. With that in mind, the Mourne legend did his best to dampen any increasing fervour amongst supporters and pundits alike.
"We're happy to win. We didn't expect to win by so much. It might seem strange to say it but it's probably two points further away from relegation for us. We're only up from the third division. I'd probably say it was a bigger game for us than it was for Kildare.
"Hunger was probably a part on the field. They're at a different stage of development to us. I think it was evident that we were more up for the game but I'm sure Mr McGeeney will put that right very quickly."
He pointed to the sendings-off as crucial and the continuing indiscipline and failure to provide their attack with quick ball had McGeeney tearing his hair out.
Gary White and Daryl Flynn were dismissed in the 51st and 61st minutes having picked up two yellow cards each, but Down were already 1-12 to 0-7 in front by the time White was saw red.
Nonetheless, seven sendings off in four games is a cause for concern, even if McGeeney believes that his players are not getting the calls from referees. He conceded though that he could not keep beating that drum.
"We were very slow in the half-back line and midfield again. Down were dropping a man (James Colgan) deep and we still kept kicking the ball to him. That was just one of a lot of different basic errors. It was very poor.
"I talked about discipline. I'm sick talking about it and we lost two players again. That's two performances like that in a row. I must be speaking French before the games because they're definitely not listening."
Down displayed a newfound pragmatism, with a visibly higher work rate throughout the field when it came to tackling. They hunted in packs and Kildare couldn't respond.
"We're concentrating on trying to put pressure on the opposition," McCartan explained. "Having forwards that can score isn't good enough. We're trying to defend as a team." They still have the attacking threat though. Indeed it's probably greater than has been the case for some time, with the Clarke brothers, John and Martin, and Paul McComiskey causing untold problems.
Kildare started reasonably well, with Rob Kelly and Karl Ennis kicking five points from play between them.
With Down exerting clear control of the middle sector though, they gradually took over. Paul McComiskey crashed home a wonderful goal in the 27th minute.
The visitors were 1-7 to 0-6 ahead at the break and continued on their merry way after the resumption. Ambrose Rodgers produced a thunderous performance at midfield and had time to venture forward for two excellent points.
That was as much as Kildare could muster for the entire second half and they will need to improve considerably if they are to be a factor in this year's league.
Scorers -- Down: P McComiskey 1-4 (0-2f), A Rodgers, M Clarke (0-3f) 0-3 each, J Clarke 0-2, C Garvey, D Hughes, S Kearney, C Laverty 0-1 each Kildare: R Kelly 0-3, K Ennis 0-2, G White, P O'Neill, J Kavanagh 0-1 each
Down -- B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, D Rafferty; K McKernan, J Colgan, C Garvey; A Rodgers, K King; C Maginn, M Clarke, D Hughes; P McComiskey, J Clarke, B Coulter. Subs: C Laverty for Maginn (49); S Kearney for Hughes (58); M Poland for Coulter (64); P Fitzpatrick for King (65); P Greenan for Rodgers (67)
Kildare -- S McCormack; A Mac Lochlainn, M Foley, E Bolton; G White, B Flanagan, A Rainbow; D Flynn, D Earley; D Whyte, P O'Neill, R Kelly; K Ennis, R Sweeney, J Kavanagh. Subs: H McGrillen for Foley (16); K Donnelly for Sweeney (49); D Lyons for Rainbow (49); K Cribbin for Cavanaugh (59); R Walsh for Cribbin (69).
Ref -- D Fahy (Longford).