Our Number's Up; Down Put Their Faith in Roman Numerals

Daily Mail (London), August 31, 2010 | Go to article overview

Our Number's Up; Down Put Their Faith in Roman Numerals


Byline: PAUL KEANE

HISTORY, James McCartan claims, is bunk. The Down manager's reaction to qualifying for next month's All-Ireland final was to downplay the significance of their proud 100 per cent record in deciders.

Yet a simple peek at the back of the Down jerseys proves that the memory of their famous forefathers is as strong as ever and being kept alive by McCartan's management team.

The Roman numerals MCMLX are stamped on the players' jerseys to highlight 1960, the year of their first All-Ireland win and, fittingly, exactly 50 years ago.

It was a famous win for the county, not just because it broke their All-Ireland duck but also because it was the first time that the Sam Maguire Cup crossed the northern border. The Mourne County have played in four more finals since and won the lot in 1961, '68, '91 and '94, but 1960 will always be a seminal year for Down, as much as McCartan may try to down play it in public.

'It's definitely not irrelevant,' said forward Danny Hughes of Down's illustrious history. 'When you look at the '60s teams that Down have had and the '90s teams that brought great glory back to Down, you have to look at it and see what they brought to the table, great pride and everything they brought to the Down jersey.

'I guess when you pull on a Down jersey you have to take those things into account.' The symbol on the back of their jerseys, located on the collar, first appeared at the start of the Championship, and is surely an attempt to draw on the 50-year anniversary for inspiration.

'It's been there since we played Donegal but I don't think anyone really noticed it,' said Hughes. 'It's about the 1960 team. Obviously, they were the first team to take Sam Maguire across the border. We'll see what happens in our final. They have their own history made so I suppose it's up to us now.'

If Down can finish the job against Cork and collect a first All-Ireland title in 16 years there will certainly be a feeling of destiny about it.

Only a few months back when they suffered crushing defeats to northern neighbours Armagh, in the Division 2 final, and Tyrone, in the Ulster Championship, nobody would have dared tip them to celebrate All-Ireland glory 50 years on. …

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