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3 big game talking points from Down


WEIGHING UP HIS OPTIONSMayo’s Andy Moran moves away from Down’s Pat Havern during Saturday’s All-Ireland SFc Qualifier in Newry.  Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

1 There’s still life in the old guard
JAMES Horan made five changes to the team that lost to Roscommon last time out, including recalls for David Clarke (35), Colm Boyle (33 next month) and Andy Moran (35).
And the experienced trio showed they’d lost none of their competitive edge or spirit in Newry.
Clarke’s selection ahead of Rob Hennelly was a big call by the manager, but he made one superb save, dealt with a ‘garryowen’ impressively, and hit his kick-out targets.
Boyle also defended and drove forward in typically dynamic fashion while Moran led the line cleverly.
He kicked a trademark point and his quick-thinking with a free set up Loftus for Mayo’s only goal of the game.

2 Young guns brought energy
THE other two new faces who came into the team in Down were Fionn McDonagh and Conor Loftus, both of whom were making their first starts for Mayo for three months.
The dynamic young duo repaid Horan’s faith with positive contributions as McDonagh showed no ill-effects of his quad injury by covering acres of ground and clipping a couple of neat points.
Loftus, meanwhile, finished with 1-4, taking over the free-taking duties and nailing a few tricky frees from the right wing. He also showed great anticipation and bravery to get on the end of Andy Moran’s fast free to score a crucial goal.
It was great to see the Crossmolina clubman back in form.

3 There is defensive work to be done
DOWN’S Caolan Mooney has the sort of explosive pace that has to be seen to be believed. He’s one of the fastest players in the country and Mayo struggled to cope with the former Aussie Rules’ man’s runs from deep at times.
Despite Mayo leaving one man spare at the back when possible, Down still managed to create three clear goalscoring chances, but only took one.
On another night Mooney would have scored a second goal, but his shot fizzed over the bar in the second half.
And it took an excellent save from David Clarke to deny Donal O’Hare a goal as well.