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Published: 14:36 | 4/6/16

McGrath sympathy for Down boss Burns

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath says he has sympathy with Down boss Eamonn Burns, who he thinks presides over the weakest Mournemen panel "for 30 years".

Two-time All-Ireland-winning Down manager McGrath says the current squad will struggle against the defending Ulster champions Monaghan in Sunday's Ulster SFC first round clash in Clones because of player injuries and retirements.

McGrath, who managed Down to All-Ireland titles in 1991 and 1994, says the Mourne County "is not a healthy place to be".

"When I was in charge we sometimes had poor league campaigns too and even suffered relegation, but you always had something to cling to such as players coming back or whatever," he said.

"There was an expectation in Down at the start of this year that Martin Clarke would be available.

"Then Caolan Mooney left which was a big blow and the injuries to both Johnstons [Jerome and Ryan] were damaging.

"So Eamon Burns has had a lot to contend with."

Monaghan defender Colin Walshe nevertheless believes Down will be fired up for Sunday's match, espeially given their best performance in a winless League campaign came against the Farney in February in Clones.

"Even when we were in that position ourselves a few years back we would always look to knocking the champions off their pedestal and Down will be no different," he told the Irish News.

"They’ll be looking at us and fancying that they’d love to be the team that knocks out of the Ulster Championship.

"They beat us in Ulster a few years ago [2012] by a point. We were nine points up and just didn’t get going in the second half and Down chipped away and they caught us in the last few minutes."

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