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18th May 2022

“County football isn’t for everyone” – Down captain Barry O’Hagan hits back at criticism

Lee Costello

“You might be a good club player, but sometimes good club players don’t make it at county level.”

Down captain Barry O’Hagan has responded to criticism regarding the Mournemen’s inter-county structure.

In recent weeks, several players have opted out of the panel, following their exit from the Ulster championship, and because they have been relegated to Division Three, they will play the remainder of this championship in Tailteann Cup.

On top of that, Kilcoo player, and Club Footballer of the Year Eugene Branagan said Down “have no ambition” and that they lack a “winning mentality.”

“County football isn’t for everyone,” O’Hagan said to BBC Sport.

“You might be a good club player, but sometimes good club players don’t make it at county level,” said O’Hagan.

“If a boy wants to play football then the door is always open for Down and if he doesn’t want to play then it is fully his decision. We respect that.

“At the end of the day, if he is at the other side of the street I’m going to go and say hello. I’m not going to be like ‘he’s not playing for Down so I’m not going to acknowledge him’.”

The Clonduff clubman added the county can look to fellow Ulster sides Cavan and Derry as Down look to revive their inter-county hopes.

“Cavan are on their way up and Derry are in Division Two and an Ulster final. We think with this cup that we are looking forward to a day out in Croke Park. We are looking to rebuild with boys and looking for game time,” he said.

“At this point in time there is no point in painting over the cracks, we aren’t up to scratch just as of yet. We want to get back to where we can and that is competing in the likes of Division Two.

“We are maybe not just at that level yet with the All-Ireland, but with with this competition we are hoping it is going to get boys game time, and getting to play tougher teams, like Cavan, in the draw will hopefully build them up for the future.”

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