Down thankful for rest after replay win
DOWN 0-25 DERRY 1-16
In just over two months, his side have played no fewer than nine games, clinching the Christy Ring Cup and booking their place in the Ulster Championship final against Antrim in the process.
Now Monan's battle-weary troops are to be granted some much-needed respite as the Ulster Council has deferred its decision on when the provincial decider will be staged.
Monan commented: "We had six weeks on the trot of matches in winning the Christy Ring Cup, then a week's break and now three games in quick succession in the Ulster Championship.
"While we are very happy to have gained this replay victory over Derry, we are also grateful of the chance to catch our breath.
"Derry played very well in the drawn game but I thought that this time round we had some very big performances notably from Donal Hughes and Paul Braniff. We will have to take stock now as some boys are going away."
Down were much more economical in possession and clinical in their finishing. In the first quarter they built up a solid 0-7 to 0-3 lead, Paul Braniff's three scores underpinning their authority.
But centre-half-back Liam Hinphey proved a driving force in the Derry side and along with his brother Kevin at midfield, helped sparked a recovery.
After conceding four scores on the bounce, the Oak Leaf side suddenly roared back into contention in the 19th minute when Alan Kelly prodded in a goal from close range following a surging run from Oisin McCloskey.
Their resurgence was stifled when goal-scorer Kelly was red-carded by referee Tony Carroll in the 27th minute following an off-the-ball clash with Down defender Patrick Hughes.
A superb point from the impressive Donal Hughes and a brace from the accurate Braniff gave Down a 0-12 to 1-5 interval cushion and with Braniff a rich source of scores – he landed twelve in all – Down maintained their advantage at 0-16 to 1-8.
But while Derry showed pluck and stamina, they were outgunned in terms of finishing power, although outstanding substitutes Paddy Henry and Mark Craig between them plundered a haul of ten points.
It was Down, though, who tore down the home straight with man of-the-match Braniff central to a significant victory.
Down scorers: P Braniff 0-12 (8f, 1'65'), D Hughes 0-5, J Coyle 0-3, K McGarry 0-2, P Sheehan, M Turley, J McCusker 0-1 each.
Derry scorers: P Henry 0-7 (3f), M Craig 0-3, A Kelly 1-0, T McCloskey, K Hinphey 0-2 each, A Grant, B Rodgers 0-1 each.
Down: S Keith; M Conlon, P Flynn, P Hughes; F Conway, C Woods, M Ennis; D Hughes, E Clarke; K McGarry,P Braniff, P Sheehan; D Toner, G Johnson, J Coyle. Subs: P Henry for Cleary, M Craig for Quigley (both half-time), S McBride for Rodgers (60).
Derry: D McDermott; D McCloskey, P Kelly, J McCloskey; R McCloskey, L Hinphey, M O'Hagan; O McCloskey, K Hinphey; B Rodgers, A Grant, P Henry; P Cleary, B Quigley, A Kelly. Subs: M Turley for Toner (50 mins), J McCusker for McGarry (53), B Nicholson for Conlon (58), L McMullan for Coyle (65), M Hughes for Ennis (66).
Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly).