Down need support for top flight maintenance

DOWN hurlers need more than just the goodwill of GAA bosses if they are to benefit from their involvement in Division One hurling in next season’s Allianz National League.

They require financial investment to promote the game in the county, according to Hurling Board Chairman Brian McEvoy.

They would also welcome support from the ‘stronger’ counties.

Accompanied by a small band of loyal supporters, Down made the journey to the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday for the Division Two final against Westmeath, making a poor start and conceding two goals before a couple of well-worked points restored confidence.

Once they got on top, they were always going to win the title.

Remarking that he had seen a dog called ‘Awesome Impact’ win in Shelbourne Park on Saturday night, long-serving Hurling Board Secretary Jimmy Keenan remarked: “I saw awesome power from the Down team. And like the dog, we came from behind and we finished brilliantly.

“It means Down hurling is lifted to the plane we always wanted. These boys live for hurling and relish the prospect of playing the top sides next season.’’

Team captain Simon Wilson agreed it had been difficult to settle. “We had a young and inexperienced team and it was obvious we were nervous. But once we found our form we played the best hurling all season, apart from the Kerry match,’’ he commented.

Brian McEvoy said it was a “wonderful occasion”, stressing that while a midway venue would have been more convenient, it was important the game was given the status alongside the Division One decider.

“It meant a lot to be part of that stage, but it would have been nice if a few more supporters had been able to travel.

“These lads have been there or thereabouts for a number of years but haven’t much silverware. It means a lot. Hopefully they can build on it when we go to New York for the championship in a few weeks.

“Now we are in Division One we have got to stay there. However, we can only do so much. We will need a big investment from the GAA at central level and also the hand of friendship from the stronger counties.”

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