Fionnuala Carr

Fionnuala Carr – Down’s perseverance paid off

Down's draw with Cork helped save their division one status

Down’s draw with Cork helped save their division one status

Shocking, abysmal, disgraceful, blame, shambles, or clueless.

Eight weeks ago if you had of googled any of those words the chances are you would have found articles, discussion forums or podcasts relating to Down football.

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There were stories of player revolts, men quitting the panel and calls for Eamonn Burns to either leave or be removed from his position.

Fast forward to the 2nd of April and Down produce one of sports great escapes.

Travelling to Cork and getting a result is by no means an easy feat and despite being behind for most of the game they managed to salvage a draw deep into injury time.

The draw coupled, with the good fortune of Derry beating Fermanagh, meant that Down stayed in Division 2.

Sometimes the sign of a true champion is how they respond when things are going wrong and not when things are going right.

A defeat against Galway and three points down away from home the odds were stacked against Down but they showed tremendous character and belief to keep sticking in and playing football.

The resolve that Down showed to keep themselves in Division 2 this year despite all the negative comments from outside the camp is a true sign of character.

Down’s result on Sunday along with Armagh’s result means that there is a complete swing in momentum ahead of their Ulster quarter-final date.

If Down had been relegated I don’t think they would have went on to beat Armagh but now there is renewed hope in the county with many people believing that Down are now favourites to progress to the semi-final.

Few things in sport or in life are achieved without having to endure some sort of disappointment.

Rory McIlroy suffered one of the most disappointing results imaginable when blowing a big lead in the US Masters, fast forward a few years and he became the World number one and has four major titles to his name.

Or even to take a look closer to home in 1991 the week before the championship was due to start Down didn’t even have enough numbers at training to play backs and forwards never mind fulfil a fixture.

Yet they had players of great character, gathered momentum and went on a run which resulted in them becoming the All Ireland champions.

While I don’t believe this is possible for this current group of players, it is possible for them to build on the positive result of staying in division two and making a push for the Ulster championship and a good run in the qualifiers.

What is also important to note is that Sunday past has probably provided us with the greatest day in the GAA calendar in terms of excitement and drama.  There were so many promotional and relegation spots to fill and the majority of the teams involved had something to play for.  It makes you wonder if the answer to the GAA fixtures calendar isn’t sitting right in front of us.

Just to finish off I would like to say a massive well done to all those who organised our camogie clubs 50th anniversary on Saturday night.

When we speak of character our club has it in abundance from those who play, those who did play and all those who work unselfishly behind the scenes.

Our club was in existence for a long time before we achieved success at senior level but it was the foundations that were set in place for us that allowed us to become Ulster champions in 2014.

One of the most important people throughout our clubs history is Maura Quinn and it is quite possible that it wouldn’t have become the club that it is without Maura’s influence.  Congratulations on your Hall of Fame award Maura, there are few more deserving recipients.

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