Saturday 24 February 2018

Down 'outcast' Devlin quits panel

Down's Paul Devlin. Photo: Sportsfile
Down's Paul Devlin. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

Down's Ulster Championship hopes are significantly damaged by a raft of recent injuries, and Paul Devlin departing the panel, claiming he felt like, "an outcast".

It has emerged that Caolan Mooney is awaiting test results on an MRI scan, fearing that he may have ruptured his Patellar Tendon which takes a minimum of three months' recovery before resuming exercise.

Meanwhile, Kilcoo brothers Jerome (quad) and Ryan (hamstring) Johnston have suffered injuries and will have a lot to do in order to prove their fitness ahead of the clash with Armagh in Newry on June 4.

Devlin, a mainstay of the team under James McCartan and Jim McCorry, has left Eamonn Burns' squad, citing his frustration with a lack of game time. The 26-year-old Kilcoo man was only used as a late substitute in the league games against Galway, Derry and Meath.

After Kilcoo's defeat to Slaughtneil in the Ulster club final last November, Devlin took a fortnight off before returning to county training.

"I felt I needed to be back into county training to win a position for the National League. But I don't know, maybe they are seeing things I am not seeing, or what I am feeling," he said.

"I spoke to Eamonn a few times and he said that I just needed to take my chance when I got it. But in three months of football, I played only 35 minutes, all in."

Having joined the panel as a teenager in 2010, Devlin was not prepared to sit and bide his time any longer.

"Well, at the end of the day, it is football. I want to be playing and if you are not getting football you are obviously not happy," he explained. "Sometimes, the way football goes, you can't dwell on it too much. You just have to take a step back and see where you can get the best out of yourself.

"If you are not enjoying it, if you are not getting any game-time, you are safer going back to your club where you can get a bit of football and start enjoying the game."

He admits that the lack of game-time left him feeling insecure about his capabilities.

"It's probably more frustration with myself. I was starting to doubt my ability, 'Why can I not break into the team?'

"There were times when I was asking myself. To be honest, I would rather let my football do the talking than approaching people about giving me a chance.

"This is my policy. I wouldn't want to approach people and say, 'You should be starting me'. I would be of the mentality of letting my football do the talking and leave actual talking to other people."

Last Sunday, Kilcoo's league opener against Castlewellan doubled up as last year's league final.

Given how little football he had played up until that point, Kilcoo manager Paul McIver did not start Devlin, copperfastening his decision that he is doing the right thing in the short term.

And, he believes that he will once more play in the red and black.


"I love putting on the Down jersey, but for the last year and the year before, I was probably one of the regular starters.

"And to be just made like an outcast, I just felt that it was time to take a break from the county panel," he added."I have been there since 2010 and I just fear that I need to be playing football, need to be playing regular football now I am starting to come into my prime, I don't want to be sitting on the bench."

Meanwhile, Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath has said Eoin McManus and Ruairi Corrigan are all but out of the Ulster Championship opener against Monaghan on May 20.

Jack O'Connor has made two changes to his Kerry U-21 side for tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final clash with Galway.

Captain Brian Sugrue's absence through injury prompts a number of positional changes. Tom O'Sullivan switches back to the corner while Andrew Barry reverts to centre-back. Barry O'Sullivan comes in at midfield as Sugrue's indirect replacement.

Conor Geaney replaces Cathal Bambury in the forward line.

Dessie Farrell has named an unchanged side for their clash with Donegal which means club All-Ireland winner Colm Basquel remains out after missing the Leinster final and Con O'Callaghan is named at full forward.

Kerry (U21 FC v Galway) - S Ryan; T (Leo) O'Sullivan, J Foley, T O'Sullivan; B O Beaglaoich, A Barry, G White; B O Seanachain, B O'Sullivan; B Barrett, S O'Shea, M Flaherty; K Spillane, M O'Sullivan, C Geaney.

Dublin (U21 FC v Donegal) - E Comerford; D Byrne, C O'Shea, E Murchan; D Monaghan, S McMahon, C Murphy, A Foley, T Fox; G O'Reilly, A Byrne, B Howard; C Sallier, C O'Callaghan, D O'Brien.

Irish Independent

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