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McCartan happy to keep proud record intact

IN terms of All-Irelands won, Down and Kerry aren’t even in the same stratosphere.

And yet the Mourne men played with swagger and abandon against the aristocracy from first minute until last.

This has always been Down’s way. They have never been scared of Kerry. They have never lost to the southern giants in the championship.

And while some pundits dismissed this feat prior to the match, it is a record that remains intact this morning.

The McCartan name has been a common link throughout these days when red and black made green and gold bow the knee. Wee James is the manager now, having played in 1991. His father, James snr, was a stalwart of the ‘60s and he would have delighted in the way Down dismantled Kerry on Saturday. Junior insisted Down’s history of success over Kerry wasn’t even mentioned in the build-up, because it wasn’t relevant to the current teams.

He did joke that at least he wouldn’t have to face his father’s wrath when he returned north.

"To be honest we didn’t think that would have any bearing on the players today" said McCartan.

"They had to make their own piece of history and today in itself is not going to be history for them unless they kick on. I’m delighted that my father can’t kick me up the backside when I get up the road! It’s nice to keep (the record) going but to be successful you have to play in Croke Park year in, year out. That’s what we want to do.

"It’s a record that will have to go some time. I will be happy to be the manager if it goes under, just as long as it’s after four, five, six or seven times. That record will be ruined at some stage but I hope it’s far away."

The manner in which his side responded to Kerry’s one period of dominance, when the Kingdom racked up four points on the trot between the 14th and 22nd minutes, pleased McCartan hugely. Of course, had Killian Young’s goal a minute later been allowed, Kerry would have hit the front, something they never managed throughout. Instead Down ended a 17 minute scoring famine with four points to give them a six-point advantage at the break.

The decision to disallow the goal was a turning point but McCartan wouldn’t necessarily agree with Jack O’Connor that it cost Kerry the game.

"It’s hard to answer. I would like to stand here and say that we responded to the Kerry goal; that would be nice. Who knows? Obviously we got one disallowed in the second half, maybe not as significant because the game was probably going our way at that time."

He admitted that the lack of consideration for Down’s chances had been used to gee the players up. But now that the victory had been achieved, he was playing things down.

"We won a game of football. We had probably been given no chance. We spoke about that a lot in the dressing room and tried to use that as motivation. Obviously Kerry are missing a couple of key men and a lot more from last year. But still, they’re a quality outfit with experienced players. We’re delighted but we’ve won a game of football and unfortunately if it ends the next day out all the celebrations will be quickly forgotten about.

"Everybody’s going to say that we take advantage of Kerry teams when they’re not at their best. That story will raise its head. We beat a Kerry team going for seven All-Ireland finals in-a-row, with a lot of experienced players.

"I’m not saying that we’re world-beaters but we got the job done today."