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Down 2-11 Antrim 1-09

Ulster U21 Football Championship

Down comfortably secured a place in the Ulster Under-21 football championship semi-finals courtesy of a five-point win over Antrim at Pairc Esler last night.

The home side were full value for their win which sets up a clash against Tyrone on April 4.

Down led by four points at the break but a goal from Donal O’Hare five minutes after the restart left Antrim with an uphill battle.

O’Hare opened the scoring for the home side, with Declan Lynch levelling for the Saffrons.

Down were coming by their scores that bit easier and opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead through scores from O’Hare and Niall McParland.

Antrim’s short passing game was being snuffed out all too easily by the Down rearguard but a five-man move weaved its way through a sea of red and black shirts for Hugh McNulty to fire home the game’s first goal.

They were to add just one more point in the remainder of the half however as Down rattled off 1-4 without reply.

Danny Savage joined the list of Down’s scorers with a great point but it was Ross McGarry’s goal after good build-up play by Bagnall and McParland that put the Mournemen in the driving seat. McGarry stretched the Down lead from a free, with Lynch ending the Antrim barren spell on the stroke of half time, as Down took a 1-7 to 1-3 into the interval.

The first score of the second half raised a green flag when a long ball over the Antrim defence from Conor Gough found O’Hare who finished superbly.

By the 44th minute Down led by eight after McGarry and O’Hare added points, with Martin Johnston replying for Antrim.

A mini Saffron revival added three unanswered scores but a McGarry point settled the Down nerves to see out the win and a place in the last four.

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Derry booked their place in next Wednesday’s semi-finals by overcoming a lethargic Monaghan side by 3-12 to 1-3.

The Oak Leaf outfit set out their stall early and goals from Fergal Duffin and Emmet McGuckin helped them take a 2-7 to 0-2 lead at the interval.

When McGuckin grabbed Derry’s third goal they careered to a runaway 3-12 to 1-3 victory.

Meanwhile, Ulster champions Cavan had a relatively straightforward passage against Armagh. Cavan still managed to look the better side in the first-half and they led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.

Armagh scored their goal but the home side produced a strong finish to win by 1-11 to 1-5.

Belfast Telegraph

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