O'Hare fired up by Down's rapid progress
Fine margins. Down's Donal O'Hare casts his mind back to the league opener in Newbridge.
The Mourne men are staring down the barrel of a gun but muster a couple of late goals to win. From there, they went on to secure promotion and face Roscommmon in a Division 2 decider on Sunday. The Lilies were relegated.
"Kildare got a grip and everything they kicked in the second half went over the bar and it was one of those days where you are thinking, 'Oh no, not again'. But then, we got (two) goals right at the death which gave us a huge boost of confidence."
O'Hare is at pains to point out that this is a new Down side. James McCartan stepped down and when he went so did several of the senior players in the panel.
The likes of Benny Coulter, Ambrose Rogers, Liam Doyle and Brendan McVeigh walked, leaving new manager Jim McCorry with plenty of rebuilding to do.
"When wee James left you know a lot of other players left too," O'Hare said.
"So Jim was coming in, he has his new ways, new strategies, new game-plan, new backroom team and definitely new players.
"It's a totally new team than what it was, you know?
"We got together in November and there wasn't the same characters in the team as there has been this past few years but it's given everyone a huge chance to step up to the mark.
"It's a very young team this year but what better way to test yourself than against Roscommon in the final on Sunday."
O'Hare revealed that Martin Clarke has yet to return to club football meaning any possible return to the county scene would seem a long way off as he battles with Addison's Disease. However, the county were boosted by the return of another AFL export with O'Hare's former St Colman's, Newry team-mate Caolan Mooney back in the set-up.
"I played with Caolan in the 2010 team that won the Hogan Cup. Even then, you could see why he was signed up for Australia, his pace, his power, his leap for the ball. He made the decision to come home which was great and he really has made a difference."