Sunday 18 March 2018

Mournemen a shadow of their former selves

Down limp out with worst ever Croker display, writes Páidí Ó Sé

WHAT a horror show from Down in Croke Park last night. In fact, I would go as far as to say that was the worst display I have ever seen from a Down team at headquarters.

Of course, they had many a good display to live up to, but really, it was hard to believe that this team reached an All-Ireland final last year. And more, they put it up to Cork for a long time last September. Last night could not have been more different. Down's marking was terrible while their elementary kicking -- what should be simple 20- or 30-yard passes -- went astray far too often, especially in the second half.

So while Down's performance struggled to rise above Junior B standard, Cork will be happy with the manner in which they won.

The All-Ireland champions have developed into a real potent force up front and they now have plenty of players who can pull the trigger. Aidan Walsh, still only 21, has a wealth of football played already and is developing into a fine player -- with all his commitments, though, they'll just have to be careful that they don't overplay him.

Donncha O'Connor, for me, is following in the footsteps of Colm Cooper and I couldn't pay him a bigger compliment. His return of 1-7 was no more than he deserved for an absolutely outstanding performance.

But the player who impressed me most on the pitch last night was Paddy Kelly. He reminds me a lot of Eamon O'Donoghue of Ballylongford, who played for Kerry in the late 1960s. Kelly doesn't appear much on the scoreboard, but he does an amount of work all over the field and rather than waste possession, he always seems to take the right option.

A good night's work for the Rebels was soured only by the injury to Daniel Goulding. The word last night was that it might not be too serious and I hope that turns out to be the case, because he would be a huge loss to Cork.

It's hard to imagine that the midfield last night was the same one that was cleaned out by Kerry in the Munster final in Killarney. So we're left wondering did Cork have an off-day or, are Kerry as good as they looked.

Sunday Indo Sport

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