The stage is set for the Ulster Under-20 Championship football final and there could hardly be a more attractive pairing to titillate the appetite of fans.
Last night’s semi-finals threw up a fascinating confrontation to climax the competition with Down now set to meet Monaghan in the decider.
Down roared into a 1-9 to 0-6 half-time lead, their goal coming from Ruairi O’Hare, while John McGovern, Eamon Brown and Andrew Gilmore led the team’s points salvo while Darragh McBrien, Conor Love and Josh Largo Ellis worked hard to stoke Fermanagh’s resistance.
The Mourne side, well drilled by manager Conor Laverty, eased further ahead in the third quarter and held a 1-13 to 0-9 lead entering the last quarter which they dominated to emerge 1-13 to 0-10 victors.
Fermanagh tried desperately to salvage the match but found it difficult to breach Down’s formidable set-up in the closing stages. Laverty’s side will now bid to restore some pride within the county following the tribulations of the senior team of late.
Monaghan, meanwhile, turned in a power-packed second-half performance to stun Donegal in the other semi-final. The Oriel County, inspired by three-goal hero Donnach Swinburne, had been behind by 1-1 to 0-9 at the interval but when Swinburne levelled matters at 2-4 to 1-7 with his second goal, that was the signal for Monaghan to mount their victory surge.
Jack McGroddy, Jack Gallagher, Rory O’Donnell and Paddy McGettigan did their best for Donegal but Michael Hamill, Ronan Grimes and Sean Jones joined Swinburne in getting Monaghan over the line.
Monaghan’s win hints at progress being made in the county currently and has heightened the mood ahead of today's Ulster semi-final against Armagh.