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Poland will not look to history for Kerry clash

LAST year's All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kerry will have no bearing on Sunday's league clash between the sides, according to Down attacker Mark Poland.

Poland notched the early goal that set the Mournemen on their way to retaining their remarkable 100pc championship record against the Kingdom. Down have beaten Kerry the last five times they have met in the championship (1960, '61, '68, '91 and 2010), but the Longstone clubman believes that is of little relevance.

"This team doesn't have a great record against Kerry. The county maybe do. We played Kerry once last year and we beat them, but they were missing players. We would rather play Kerry 30, 40 times in the championship and have won 20 and got beat 20."

After their defeat to Dublin last weekend, Down can still qualify for the final, but it is out of their hands. They must beat Kerry in Killarney and hope Cork lose to Armagh. Poland leapt to the defence of team-mate Kalum King, whose late mistake led to Dublin's decisive goal in Croke Park last Saturday.

"It was tough," said the 26-year-old. "There was people saying about how Kalum dropped the ball, but they seem to forget how Kalum King saved us from getting beat in an All-Ireland semi-final last year."

Poland agreed the Dubs' defensive system was difficult to break down for a side known for the quality of their forwards.

"You can hear maybe sometimes in Ulster about blanket defence, but it was actually a very strange game to play in because they were more or less zonal marking as such, and you never had a man following you.

"They got the result at the end of the day and winning is all that counts. Unfortunately, we don't have anybody like Kieran Donaghy.

"Maybe we were laboured, too many lateral passes. Maybe if we had gone at them with a bit more pace and tried a few more long range scores. It didn't come off on Saturday anyway."

Irish Independent