Counihan praises Down forwards

Counihan praises Down forwards

Conor Counihan reckons his Cork side will be marking some of the best forwards in the country when they tackle Down in Sunday's All-Ireland SFC final.

"I think to be fair Down have a lot of options up front. To be focusing on any one of them would be dangerous from our point of view," explained the Rebels manager.

"We just have to focus on the six (Down forwards) and try to tie them all down.

"Looking through the qualifiers, I think they have proven that they are among the best in the country."

With the Mourne men contesting their first All-Ireland SFC final since 1994 this weekend, many outside the county are surprised that Down have reached this stage of the competition.

But not so Counihan, who recognises that James McCartan's charges are a formidable force.

"I wouldn't say I would be surprised that they are there," he said.

"The reality is that I would have said earlier on in the year that any one of ten teams could win this All-Ireland and Down certainly would have fallen into that remit.

"They are always a team with a lot of ability and they are performing to that ability now."

Cork have lost two of the last three All-Ireland SFC finals, but Counihan is not worried about that.

"I'd like to believe that some of the pain that we have suffered in the past will drive us on that bit more on Sunday.

"But the reality is that we have to go out and do it," he added.

Counihan recognises that there has been a steady progression for the Rebels since he took over as manager in February 2008 - with National League Division 2 and Division 1 titles won in successive years.

Munster honours have also come their way during Counihan's term.

"It came off the back of 2007 and a very disappointing All-Ireland defeat. Obviously then we had other issues around the place at the time so it took time.

"It's been a steady progression for us, but at this stage I think we would like to complete that progression.

"There's no fast fixes in these situations for players or management. It needs time and it evolves and hopefully what we have achieved to date has proved that."

It is obvious that Counihan does not care how Cork win this Sunday's final - just as long as they win it. In doing so, they would end Down's unbeaten run in All-Ireland deciders.

"It's all about getting across the line and I wouldn't be worried about us playing pretty," he admitted.

"People said that we were very pretty last year, but we ended up empty handed at the end of the day, so it is just about getting over the line now."

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