Football League Division Three: Down may regret Laois defeat says Marty Clarke

Down's Kevin McKernan and Marty Clarke
Kevin McKernan and Marty Clarke were part of the Down team that lost the 2010 All-Ireland final

Former All-Star Marty Clarke says Down could struggle to escape from Division Three of the Football League following their opening round defeat by Laois.

The Mournemen allowed a five-point lead to slip in Paddy Tally's first league match in charge at Pairc Esler.

Kevin McKernan and Darren O'Hagan were both suspended for the game but Clarke questioned the decision not to use the recently married Connaire Harrison.

The BBC pundit asked: "Why was Connaire Harrison not a priority?".

"Yes he was married recently but he should have been in the squad, get him in there, he's back now from his honeymoon so get him involved.

"You're a new manager, you need him there, so for me its all well and good blooding in new players but before you know it you could be looking for your first win in Division Three and it didn't come (against Laois) so maybe Down missed the ball there.

"I know guys have personal lives and everything else, but if I was Paddy Tally I would have the best players in Down at my disposal from day one despite anything else."

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Tally blames inexperience for Down defeat

Team captain O'Hagan will be available for the round two visit to Sligo on 3 February while McKernan and forward Ryan Johnston will also return from suspension.

"McKernan is a leader and Darren O'Hagan is a leader, they'll get more out of Caolan Mooney and I thought Pat Havern was very good and I'd love to see him in there with Connaire Harrison so there's lots of guys to come back in," said Clarke.

"My question is, why are they not there now?

Tally's side will host Westmeath, Offaly and Louth in their attempt to return to Division Two at the first attempt but they must also travel to face Longford and Carlow.

"It's serious business," Clarke continued, "Down, it's now very unlikely that they're going to get promotion - potentially it's still possible - but Laois were certainly the better side."

Allianz Football League Division Three
PWLDiffPts
Carlow11072
Laois11062
Longford11022
Westmeath11012
Offaly101-10
Louth101-20
Down101-60
Sligo101-70

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