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Down and Armagh facing sanctions after brawl

By Declan Bogue

Down manager Eamonn Burns and his Armagh counterpart Kieran McGeeney have a few nervy days ahead as they await any ramifications from the prolonged brawl at the end of Sunday's Ulster Championship quarter-final, which the Mournemen won for their first victory over the Orchard County in 25 years.

It's understood the Central Competitions Controls Committee will review the footage and decide if either side have a case to answer over certain incidents, and if they are guilty of 'contributing to a melee', the charge that earned Tipperary hurler Jason Forde a one-game ban after their clash with Wexford.

Both managers may feel they are in the clear, however, as the brawl was dealt with at the time by referee Conor Lane, who handed out bookings to two Down players - Barry O'Hagan and Niall McParland - and two from Armagh - Stephen Sheridan and Joe McElroy.

Meanwhile, one of the stars of Down's win, Caolan Mooney, has hailed the derby triumph as his finest in the red and black shirt.

Mooney was dropped from the panel at the start of last year, but showed the sort of athleticism that convinced Collingwood to take him to Australian Rules for two years.

"I would have to say it is my sweetest day in a Down jersey," said the exuberant Rostrevor man.

"It's been too long since we have felt victory in this stadium. A lot of the boys had never won a Championship match, most of us had never won an Ulster Championship match, so it was a long time coming.

"I can't wait to go up to that changing room because the buzz will be good."

He also spoke of the mountain of criticism that Down players and management had faced last season when they failed to win a single game and dropped to Division Two.

Player defections and unrest in the camp also dogged the Mournemen.

"The slating we received in the last few years was cruel to an extent," the 24-year-old said, immediately turning some of his focus towards the Ulster semi-final, where they will face the winners of this weekend's tie between Cavan and Monaghan.

"I'm just glad to get that behind us now and move on. We wouldn't have been able to move on until we got a big Championship win this year, so it can only improve from this. We had four or five debutants in the game and this will give them the feel of what Championship football is all about it.

"That's only my second ever Ulster Championship game and it's good to get that victory under the belt. It gives us a bit of momentum too."

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