Down and Kerry meet in the third round of the Allianz National Football League at Pairc Esler in Newry this Sunday(2.30). Both sides made a winning start to the new campaign,before disappointing on their second outing. If either have serious aspirations of reaching the latter stages of this competition, a win on Sunday is crucial.
The Mourne men defeated their Ulster neighbours Donegal by a single point in the first round but were shown up against Cork down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh last time, suffering a heavy defeat(4-11 to 0-10). James McCartan will be hoping for a much better performance from his charges this weekend as they face one of the stronger sides in the division. Kerry were arguably at their peak for the Croke Park encounter with All Ireland champions Dublin on the opening night of the season and ran out impressive winners of that game. Jack O’Connor’s side were immediately installed as firm favourites to win the title but came badly unstuck against Armagh in the next round. It is not often a Kerry team are defeated on their home soil and O’Connor was furious at the lack of effort in Tralee.
The beaten All Ireland finalists are 2/5 favourites to get their season back on track this weekend and it will be a surprise if they fail to take the points. Down have been a pale shadow of the 2010 team in recent months and despite the odd show of brilliance they have yet to show that they can remain competitive at the top level. A victory over Kerry would certainly go some way towards proving the critics wrong but until they achieve such a win,the jury remains out.
Kerry are even money with a three point deficit with Boylesports and this may be the call for those that fancy an interest. O’Connor will be anxious to get the most from his side and a number of players have a point to prove after the Armagh defeat. Competition for places remains strong and Down could be made to pay.