DOWN MANAGER Ronan Sheehan has backed Donegal to retain their place in the Christy Ring Cup.
Down soared into the semi-finals thanks to a landslide 7-22 to 2-15 win over Donegal at O’Donnell Park this afternoon.
Down, thanks to a hat-trick apiece for the Sands brothers, Daithi and Eoghan, cruised to the semi-finals and a meeting with Roscommon, while Donegal will face London in a relegation play-off next weekend.
“You have to feel a bit for Donegal,” Sheehan told Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub.
“They’re a lot better team than what they showed. They were missing hurlers the quality of Lee Henderson and Declan Coulter, Davin Flynn and guys like that, they’re working off a small base.
“Hopefully that won’t put too much of a downer on Donegal. I’d love to see them stay up in the Christy Ring. They’re good enough. As a fellow Ulster county, hopefully that won’t knock them.”
Sheehan is targeting a Croke Park spot for the Mourne County now.
As Wicklow overcame Derry at Owenbeg, Down topped the group on score difference.
Sheehan said: “We’re 70 minutes from Croke Park and we don’t get there too often.
“That’s our total focus. We can’t look any further than Roscommon. It’s a great opportunity for us and this was a real confidence booster for us.
“We knew that this would be difficult but we felt that, if we got on top that we’d need to stay on top. The full-forward line has been excellent for us all year. They were outstanding.
“People need to remember that the average age of that panel is 23. We are very young and they are starting to show great maturity.”