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Mark Poland: Down can't lose focus against All-Ireland champions Donegal

Updated: Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 20:58 | Comments

Leo McLoone and Mark Poland are set to battle it out for a place in the Ulster SFC final
Leo McLoone and Mark Poland are set to battle it out for a place in the Ulster SFC final

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Mark Poland says Down can’t afford to lose their concentration for a second against Donegal in this Sunday’s Ulster SFC semi-final.

The sides met in the final last season and the Tír Connail men recorded a 2-18 to 0-13 win on their way to All-Ireland glory.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, the Down forward insisted that lessons were learned: “We just can’t take our eye off the ball, any chances they get in front of the goal, they’re clinical.

"Last year we let them in for two slack goals, on our part. The second one probably killed the game off and the heads dropped and they tagged on a lot more scores after that so we need to be on our guard for 70, 75 minutes, whatever it takes.

“We’re facing the All-Ireland champions, who have set the benchmark for every other team to get to, so we know we’re facing the ultimate test.”

"I still think that on any given day any team can beat any other team" - Mark Poland

James McCartan’s men also suffered defeat to Sunday’s opponents in the league but, as it happened, both sides were relegated to Division 2.

Poland says that there is not much to be read into that series.

“We didn’t really set any targets in the league,” said the Longstone clubman, who is also captain of the Down team.

“I think James wanted to use it to blood new players. We put in some good performances, as Donegal did too, but at the end of the day your bread and butter is Championship football, and that’s usually what every team targets at the end of the year.

“They are All-Ireland champions and they are probably going to be favourites for it again this year so I don’t think their league performances are going to matter the latter stages of the Championship.

“In the Championship matches so far the Division 1 teams have come out on top against the other teams but I still think that on any given day any team can beat any other team.

"I think it’s just worked out this year that Division 1 teams have got over Division 2 teams and they’re maybe making the suggestion that the gap is bigger than what they think but any team can beat any other team on any Championship day and I think it’s a bit of a myth.”

The game is due to throw in at 2pm in Breffni Park, Cavan and is live on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland).

Previews, reviews and features of all the GAA Championship action on Championship Matters from 20:30 on Thursday 13 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).

Live television coverage of Donegal v Down from 13:30 on Sunday 23 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Live radio coverage of all the day’s action featuring Cork v Clare from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).

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