For the second week in a row, we were slow out of the blocks and ultimately on this occasion paid the price.
Michael Murphy got us out of jail last week against Meath with his wonder last gasp point. But there was no escape against Down yesterday in Newry, even if we were pressing at the finish.
We played against the wind in the first half and spent most of the half on the back foot as Down ran at us from the off.
It took us 16 minutes before we got our first score and by that stage they had put a bit of daylight between us. We did settle before half-time and Colm McFadden cut the lead to four. And Martin McElhinney, who had a good game, and Leo McLoone reduced the margin with two early in the second half. But that was as close as we got.
Naill Madine’s first half goal meant we were always chasing the game. Mark Poland caused us a lot of problems, especially in the first half, and Jim McGuinness moved Frank McGlynn onto him with McLoone switching to the wing.
This was very much a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. McGlynn was having a good game on the wing and was driving at them. I felt that Karl Lacey, who was going well corner-back, might have been a better option for centre-back and leave McGlynn on the wing.
But the bottom line is we did not play well and did not match Down for hunger, which is something of a concern. And I have to admit I say that not knowing what type of training we are doing at the moment. If we are doing some heavy training it could go some way to explaining a non-performance.
Lacey’s display, especially in the first half, was one of the positives to come out of the game. McElhinney also did well for us in the middle of the field, even if we struggled in this area for most of the game. I was also a little surprised that Christy Toye and Dermot Molly, were substituted. I thought they were playing well. No matter what the pre-match plan might be, I would never take a man off if he is going well.
Despite the defeat I still think all is not lost and we will still be promoted. It is in our hands.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.