Three years ago, Paddy Tally took on the role as Down senior football manager and, in that time, he has given debuts to 20 players.

His term officially ended with Sunday's 16-point hammering to Donegal and it remains to be seen whether Tally continues in the job as he prepares to meet with the county board and discuss the situation.

Some observers feel it’s a natural end of the road for Down and this manager, citing some poor displays against the likes of Meath in the league, and a style that doesn’t always endear itself to purists as evidence that change could be welcome.

But in addressing the managerial situation for 2022, context is also needed. There will be some support for retaining Tally and ensuring continuity – for deep down that is something that is needed in the county.

A couple of weeks ago, his goalkeeper Rory Burns pulled off four top-class saves as they beat Laois by seven points to preserve their Division Two status. Staying in the second tier at least guarantees regular quality opposition for the young side the manager has put together.

Meanwhile, they have snatched some championship wins in his three-year stint which not every county has. While they lost to Armagh and Mayo in 2019, they did have a qualifier win against Tipperary.

In 2020, they beat Fermanagh 1-15 to 0-11 and only lost by a point to eventual champions Cavan in the Ulster semi-final.

They went into Sunday’s game with three debutants starting and another sprung from the bench, and were outclassed for long periods of the game. Their kickouts and primary possession capabilities have been an issue all season long, and while they struggled yesterday from restarts, they did manage to win 66% of their own kickouts. The problem was Donegal won 93%.

"Next year looks like it will be better (in terms of structure and increased games) but that was our fifth game of football and that is us done for the year."

Down lack big, physical 6'4''-type midfielders and came up against a seasoned championship team, perennial Ulster finalists, out to make up for losing to Cavan last year. From just eight turnovers, for instance, Donegal scored six points off their opponents.

"We’ve just had so few games," Tally told RTÉ Sport.

"Next year looks like it will be better (in terms of structure and increased games) but that was our fifth game of football and that is us done for the year.

"Five games of football, roughly six and a half hours, and it’s not what you play county for.

"I know the way things are this year, but it just seemed to be 'get it done'. It’s not a good template for county football and it’s very hard to develop players," he added.

Tally argues that the rich will get richer if the current championship system stays the same, but he looks forward to a new structure coming into play.

"Our team is so young, and they need more games at a higher level against good teams on a regular basis. I thought we would be more competitive against Donegal, but we need more games at this level to bring us on."

Aside from the 20 debuts Tally has handed out, he has fielded 37 players in total over five championship games during his term.

A regular turnover of players – and not always having the best talent available – has not helped the county.

Fundamentally, Tally would like to see players commit for 10 years or more but instead he has seen many drift away after maybe three or four seasons which, he feels, has hindered their development.