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Remarkable Commute Down Star Makes To Sample Tally Football

Remarkable Commute Down Star Makes To Sample Tally Football
Aaron Strain
By Aaron Strain
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After a comprehensive home defeat to Laois on the opening weekend of this year's Allianz National Football League, there were many Down Gaels that rolled the eyes, blew out the cheeks and thought - "Aw God, not again".

Slowly but surely, however, signs of resurgence have sprouted as Spring approaches.

Four wins on the bounce, and that undying Mourne optimism has reared it's head again. Suddenly, a swift return to Division 2 is within sight, and one may even dare to suggest that any speak of the May 19th meeting with Armagh in the Quarter-final of the Ulster Championship be greeted with anticipation rather than apprehension.

Last weekend's blitz of Longford at Pearse Park saw Donal O'Hare grab himself a hat-trick, and last night the Burren marksman was instrumental again as the Paddy Tally led rehabilitation continued with an eight point win over Offaly in Newry.

Few would begrudge O'Hare the purple patch of form he currently squats in. The trainee teacher has given more than most to don the famous Red and Black in 2019, with a gruelling work and travelling schedule curtailing any hope of downtime.

Speaking to our Three Man Weave podcast earlier this week, Liverpool based Mr O'Hare gave Maurice the run down on his chocablock diary.


I'm in Liverpool this year doing a PGCE [Post-Grad Certificate in Education] in PE. It was one of those things I had to do, but when the phone call came and Paddy asked did I want to be part of the team, I thought I'd give it a go.

I miss training during the week. the boys train on a Tuesday night so I end up missing only one training a week. I do my own gym over here, and yoga and stuff like that.

I'm usually leaving school at about 3 o'clock on a Friday. Straight to the airport. Flight's at half-five. land at half-six. Get down the road for training at half-seven or 8 o'clock. And then play a match at the weekend, get the flight back at half-nine or 10 o'clock on the Sunday night and we go again for another week.

Despite the strict time constraints on him, O'Hare seems to be enjoying his new regime - a regime that sees him train within a select group of displaced Ulster footballers residing in England's north-west.


"I keep myself busy. The PGCE is tough enough work. It's not as if I've been lying about scratching my head", explained the former St. Colman's College star. "Barry O'Hagan [Clonduff] who's on the squad, he's over in Liverpool as well. Ryan Johnston [Kilcoo] is in Manchester. Then there's Matthew Fitzpatrick who's on the Antrim squad and Ryan McAnespie who's on the Monaghan squad. We've been doing our collective gym sessions to keep ourselves ticking over".

Donal O'Hare, Three man weave

O'Hare has been quick to point to the feel good factor that Tyrone man Tally's appointment gave to a squad that have been in a prolonged state of struggle, more or less since being promoted into the top-flight of league football in 2015. By the time the 2016 campaign came around, promotion winning manager Jim McCorry had been told to pack his things in fairly acrimonious circumstances, after a dismal Championship exit to Wexford.  After a lot of candidates proved reluctant to take over the chalice, the unassuming figure of Eamonn Burns stepped up to take the job that nobody seemed to want.


The Mournemen subsequently lost seven of seven in Division One that year, taking some heavy beatings in the process - none worse than the 21 point home defeat to Donegal on Gameweek One.

Having survived the drop to Division 3 by a hair's breadth in 2017, a disappointing campaign last year saw Burns' side fall to the third tier for the first-time in a decade, and after another lacklustre Championship campaign, the Bryansford man stepped aside after last summer's defeat to Cavan in the back door.

The appointment of Tally, who has garnered a name for himself as a wily trainer with Tyrone, Galway and at the head of the St. Mary's Belfast coaching remit that delivered a surprise Sigerson Cup to the tecahing college in 2018, in October, excited some fellas so much that they've been persuaded into giving things another year.


Paddy's reputation speaks for itself and when he got the job last October everyone was keen to get involved.

there was a couple of people who were maybe leaving last year and have decided to stay on an extra year. I suppose the likes of Benny Coulter [Tally's assistant] and players like that back in - players who we have played with and are role models for us - has got everyone back on board.

It's good when you're winning and things are flying at the minute, but we know we have tougher tests ahead.

O'Hare also weighed in on the some of the debates that dominated last week's meeting of Congress, expressing exasperation at the continued refusal of the sport's decision makers to listen to players wishes.

"I suppose the most frustrating thing is when the GPA ask for us to vote, they ask for all the players opinions, then we get the survey back which tells us what the players wanted and what the players didn't want. Then it goes to Congress and you see rules passed that players didn't want. It's frustrating when you're asked an opinion and then just disregarded".

Continuing, the inside forward was damning of the trial and error system that has been a feature of recent seasons when it comes to enacting new rules on the game.


I think there's too much focus on rule changes. Just leave the game the way it is. The players want to play it and if they ask our opinions they should take them on board.

Hear more from O'Hare, including his views on a two-tier championship, what that would mean for his beloved Down and much, much more by simply clicking one of our links to the Three Man Weave podcast, on-screen. 

SEE ALSO: 'We Got A Great Turnout' - Proud Kerry Hurler Hails Hometown Support After Fitzgibbon Glory



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