Doyle Down but not out

 
 

A cruel catalogue of injuries has limited Liam Doyle to a bit part role with the Mourne County in recent years but he is eager to make up for lost time.

The son of 1968 All-Ireland winning centre-back Willie Doyle sustained a cruciate ligament injury in the 2008 Ulster championship clash against Armagh in Clones that confined him to the sidelines for two years.

He missed out on Down’s march to the 2010 Sam Maguire Cup decider but made a welcome return to the county fold the following year.

In 2012 he started at left half-forward in the 0-13 to 2-18 Ulster SFC final defeat to Donegal before featuring as a substitute in the 2-9 to 3-18 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final loss at the hands of Mayo.


Liam Doyle in action against Donegal's Davei Walsh

The injury jinx struck again during the recent Dr McKenna Cup game against Armagh but he has since returned to training and is looking forward to getting back out onto the field as James McCartan’s men aim to recover from three opening round league defeats against Donegal, Tyrone and Cork.

“We were disappointed with the second half against Donegal,” he told hoganstand.com. “We wasted a couple of good goal scoring opportunities. If we had converted one of them the end result might have been different.

“We need to be more clinical and ruthless. A couple of efforts fell into their goalkeeper’s hands and Donegal are a team that are going to punish you if you don’t take your chances.

“We dominated for large parts of the first half against Tyrone but, again, that wasn’t reflected in the scoreboard.

“We always feel we can get something out of our games, especially at home, but Tyrone got the scores at vital times.

“We have to put our heads down and work hard. We’re under pressure after the first two league games. It’s a very competitive division and everyone is fighting for points. Who would have thought Kerry would lose their opening three league games?”

The defeats to Donegal and Tyrone were bitter pills to swallow but paled into insignificance compared to the third round 1-17 to 3-12 reversal at the hands of holders Cork in Esler Park.

Ciaran Sheehan’s injury-time goal robbed victory from under the Mourne County’s noses but, again, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the team in red and black.

Their injury problems are well documented with other influential performers such as Dan Gordan, Ambrose Rogers and Danny Hughes also restricted to the treatment table.

They will need a clean bill of health for their Anglo Celt Cup opener against Derry on Sunday, June 2.


Liam Doyle

The Mourne County fell at the final hurdle last July in their bid to win a first Anglo Celt Cup title since

“We’re taking every game as it comes,” replied Liam when quizzed on Down’s ambitions for the championship. “It was very disappointing how last year finished up. We suffered two heavy defeats against Donegal and Mayo and now we have the opportunity to rectify that.

“Every team has ambitions to win the Ulster title and we’re no different. We have a tough opener against Derry but if everyone if available and fit then we would have confidence in our ability.”

Equally at home in defence or attack, Liam captained the Mourne County to All-Ireland minor glory in 1999 and graduated onto the senior team the following year.

He won a Sigerson Cup with Jordanstown in 2001, won a Railway Cup medal in 2003 and captained his county team two years later.

The cruciate ligament injury halted his gallop but he’s keeping his fingers crossed for an injury-free 2013.

Things are also looking up on the club front for Liam and Liatroim Fontenoys who secured promotion to Division 1.

“We’re delighted to be back playing against the top teams. There is a new structure in Down this year with 16 teams so we’ll see how it goes. We have good young lads coming through and there is no better place for them to learn than in Division 1.”

Down are learning the hard way in Division 1 at the moment but, with a full compliment available to them, they will be a force to be reckoned with come the real business of championship time.