Ward backs Down to shine


Former Down footballer Sean Ward believes that the county should have two goals this year and they are to stay in division 1 of the NFL and to win the Ulster title.

Sean feels that the current side have failed to build on their good run in 2010, but he feels that the quality is still there in the squad.

Their league campaign has not got off to the best of starts, but Sean is confident that they can turn things around.

“In fairness, they are not playing badly. I was talking to Liam Doyle after the loss to Tyrone and they were very disappointed to lose that game,” revealed Sean.

“I think it is essential to stay in division 1. The team has not really progressed in the last two years and they need to pick up some silverware.

“In my opinion, Ulster is the hardest province to win, but I do think that Down should make that a priority this year. That would certainly be seen as a sign of progress. There is no doubt that they are still a top ten team in the country and if they can get their momentum going and adapt a winning mentality, they can do very well.”

Since hanging up his boots a few years back, Sean has turned to management. His first foray into manning the line had resounding success as he guided his native club Burren to five county under-21 titles in a row, while in between winning two Ulster titles at the same level.
“We had great success with the under-21s. This was the culmination of the hard work of not only the players, but the people that had coached them the whole way up.”

Last year, Sean took the step into senior management, but surprisingly it wasn't with Burren, but another Down side, St John's.

“Burren decided that they wanted an outside man for the job and I've no problem with that. I told the chairman that whatever he thought was best for the club and that's the way I feel.
“I've enjoyed my time with St John's, it's a different approach and they are a great club. We gained promotion to division 2 last year and this is a step up for them this year, but I'm confident that they can do well.”

So as to his GAA future, Sean remained coy about the Burren job and indeed the Down manager's role. “Look you never say never, but with regards the county, I've a lot to prove at club level first. You have to earn the respect of your peers, before you can be even considered for a job like that. Anyway, I think Wee James will be there for a while yet.

“I would like to return at some stage and manage the club, hopefully I will get the opportunity to do so, but for the moment all my focus is on St John's.”

Sean is employed by Murdock Builder's Merchants, which was originally established in 1982 with the set-up of Newry Building Supplies Ltd on the Rathfriland Road in Newry. Murdock Builder's Merchants growth over the last 30 years has been a combination of organic and by acquisition, and they are currently recognised as a leading supplier of building materials and timber in the Irish Market Place.