Down has enough in their locker to win the All-Ireland this year but it will be far from a stroll in the park according to the county’s front man Danny Hughes.
The University of Ulster graduate will take to the field on Sunday 19 September hoping to add his name to the list of accomplished stars who have graduated from the University and went on to lift the most coveted trophy in Irish sport, the Sam Maguire.
Down face Cork in the decider and despite being deemed underdogs Hughes, who graduated from Ulster in 2004 with a degree in Accountancy, said that the minds in the camp are focussed:
“Cork are the best team in country at the minute but I’m going out to win the game. There isn’t anyone that goes out on the pitch on an All-Ireland final not to win it. Any team can be beaten on the day and that’s what we’ll be hoping to do and are going to give it everything.”
“Obviously people look to the likes of Benny Coulter and John Clarke, Martin Clarke and Paul McComiskey to inspire the team and anyone of the players can be a match winner for us and that’s what counts.”
After putting in his own inspirational man of the match performance in the 1-16 to 1-14 semi-final win over Kildare, the modest Saval club player may seem a certainty for a start in the line-up for the final but he’s taking nothing for granted:“I’m happy to be part of the squad and I’ll do anything I can do to help Down go on and lift the Sam Maguire. I don’t know how I’ll feel on the day but I’m excited now and just looking forward to getting on the field.”
The playmaker’s impressive work-rate has made Hughes a valuable asset to the Mourne men right through the campaign and to the six-point win over Kerry in the quarter final and the narrow edging past Kildare.And he’s not the only player to come through the University of Ulster ranks to prove a key member of a successful county team.
Three-times All-Ireland winner Sean Cavanagh from Tyrone, Derry’s Enda Gormley, Donegal’s Jimmy McGuinness, and Down’s 1994 captain DJ Kane, all got their hands on the famous football trophy.
Hughes said: “I’m proud to have gone to Jordanstown. It’s a great place to study, and has a great Gaelic club with a great atmosphere and helps players in their development.”