Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Vintage Down on the up as Offaly floodgates open

Offaly 2-10 Down 5-19

Down made the long journey to Tullamore on Saturday evening to take on Offaly in the All Ireland SFC Qualifiers and returned home successful and they gave Ross Carr his greatest success since he took charge two years ago.

This was vintage Down, capped by five brilliant goals.

However the fact that they leaked two goals shows that the defensive problems which have been a problem all year have not been fully repaired.

Up front Daniel Hughes, Ronan Murtagh and John Clarke gave the Offaly defence a real testing time while Benny Coulter, although only scoring a goal and a point had a hand in most of Down’s first half scores.

At the back Luke Howard, Paul Murphy and Aidan Carr were very sound. The first half saw Down completely in control. Aidan Carr with three points shot the Mournemen ahead before Kevin McKernan added a point.

Daniel Hughes finished off a swift move with Down’s first goal and then the floodgates opened. Ronan Murtagh and John Clarke increased the lead with a goal each while points flowed from Clarke, Ambrose Rodgers, Dan Gordon and Kevin McKernan as Down led by 3-12 to 0-3 at half time. Ciaran McManus with two points and John Reynolds with one were the Offaly scorers.

The second half was a lacklustre affair. Down were content to dictate the pace of the game. Offaly did manage two goals from Pascal Kellaghan but Down negated these with goals from Benny Coulter and Ronan Sexton as the Ulster side ran out convincing and deserving winners.

The hoodoo of the qualifiers had at last been put to bed.

OFFALY: P. Kelly; G. Rafferty, S. Brady, P.McConway; K. Slattery, J. Keane, N. Greenan; C. McManus (0-2), N. Smith; N. Darby, J. Coughlan, J. Kelly; P. Kellaghan (2-1), J. Reynolds (0-2), N. McNamee (0-3).Subs: A. McNamee for N. Darby; G. Dunne (0-1) for J. Kelly; R. Darby for G. Rafferty S. Ryan (0-1) for J. Reynolds

DOWN: B. McVeigh; L. Howard, M. Cole, C. Murney; P. Murphy, A. Carr (0-4), K. McGuigan; D. Gordon (0-2), A, Rodgers (0-1); J. Fegan, K. McKernan (0-2), D. Hughes (1-1); B. Coulter (1-1), R. Murtagh (1-3), J. Clarke (1-4).Subs: R. Sexton (1-1) for R. Rodgers; G. McArdle for P. Murphy; P. Turley for M. Cole; D. McCartan for P. Murney; J. Lynch for L. Howard.

Referee: A. Mangan (Kerry).