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Tipp ambush can cut Down Mourne men

THIS one all depends on Down. There is absolutely no other way to see it.

The sight of them standing dejected in Clones last week as Donegal lifted another Anglo-Celt Cup, knowing that their best wasn't even remotely good enough to dent the big green-and-yellow machine from the north-west, must have sent shivers down the spine of even their most stoic and optimistic supporters.

There is no doubt, James McCartan put huge stock in winning an Ulster title this year.

It is his third season in charge and he has an All-Ireland final appearance and a promotion to Division 1 to show for his reign but all Down teams, fairly or unfairly, are judged by the big cups they win, namely Ulster or Sam Maguire.

So how they react this week will be the biggest single factor in how this game swings.



CRASH

Credit to Tipp, though. They're on something of a role, possess one of the most rounded football teams in their recent history and have a wave of talent about to crash on the shore in the next couple of years.

And an All-Ireland quarter-final appearance would have huge benefits for those players, their almost non-existent support and Peter Creedon, who is playing a blinder in his role as manager, a post he only took up towards the end of the league.

Last week, after beating Antrim, while garlands were being thrown at his feet, Creedon was attempting to play down the achievement.

"We're confident in our own ability but we do realise we've beaten three Division 3 teams to get to this stage. We were in the same division as those teams so we shouldn't be patting ourselves on the back."

In Philip Austin, Peter Acheson and Michael Quinlivan, he has a forward line hopping with different qualities and, in Ciarán McDonald, a corner-back not so far away from an All Star just now. If -- and it's not that big an 'if' -- Down are in any way short in terms of attitude, Tipp could do the unthinkable and win. And we've a hunch they will.

ODDS: Down 1/2, Draw 15/2, Tipperary 11/5 VERDICT: Tipperary

TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; B Fox, R Kelly, A Campbell; G Hannigan, H Coughlan; R Ryan, P Austin, D Leahy; A Maloney, P Acheson, M Quinlivan.

DOWN: TBC.