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Down flounder as Kingdom reign in spectacular style

 

Sad exit: Down boss Ronan Sheehan was left dejected after their defeat
Sad exit: Down boss Ronan Sheehan was left dejected after their defeat
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Down manager Ronan Sheehan was forced to take stock of a markedly below-par performance as his team collapsed in losing to Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 hurling championship final by 3-22 to 0-12 to a fired-up Kerry outfit.

It was at Pairc Tailteann, Navan that the Mourne county's aspirations of taking a step up in the hurling world were dealt a savage blow as Kerry dominated the first half before going on to boss the second period.

"We never really got going and the fact that Kerry scored three goals in the first half did not help," said Sheehan. "Once they built up a lead we were never able to catch up with them but we will have to take lessons from this experience."

With only 16 minutes gone Down had already conceded two goals with Donal O'Sullivan the marksman on each occasion and Down's cup of woe was filled to overflowing when Barry O'Mahony pounced for Kerry's third goal in the 29th minute.

Ronan Blair (4), Tim Prenter (2), Stuart Martin and Conor McCrickard landed points for Down but with Kerry similarly unyielding after the break, there was never any chance of Down offering any real degree of resistance.

Meanwhile, Tyrone made an inglorious exit from the All-Ireland ladies senior football championship when they were brushed aside by a vastly superior Cork outfit in what proved to be a one-sided quarter-final at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe.

The Red Hands had all but conceded the game by the halfway stage when they trailed by 3-8 to 1-3 with Cork having swept into overdrive from the opening whistle.

Eimear Scally, Eimear Kiely and the outstanding Niamh Cotter pounced for goals for the Rebel county with Tyrone pegged back inside their own half for the greater part of the first half.

If anything, Cork stepped up their intensity in the third quarter in particular with Doireann O'Sullivan (2), Aine O'Sullivan and Saoirse Noonan adding further goals to further cement their team's dominance.

Maeve Mallon, Maria Canavan and Chloe McCaffrey tried valiantly to spark Tyrone's resistance but the team as a whole were never able to achieve any real degree of cohesion or rhythm.

They missed a few scoring chances but their attack never constituted any real threat to a Cork side that certainly showed they had put that defeat to Armagh well and truly behind them.

In the All-Ireland Intermediate camogie championship Down strode impressively into the semi-finals when they dismantled under-strength Wexford by 7-28 to 1-7.

Niamh Mallon, Sarah Louise Carr and Karen McMullan were very much to the fore, particularly in helping the Mourne county sprint into a 5-13 to 1-3 interval lead.

Down continued to score as they pleased in the second period, winning with the greatest of comfort to secure a last four meeting with Westmeath who caused a surprise by getting the better of Cork in their quarter-final.

Manager Martina Rooney is hopeful that she will have a full-strength available for the semi-final - a match that will really test the prowess of her side.

In the other semi-final Tipperary, despite losing to Derry yesterday, will oppose a Galway outfit that has been in fine form lately.

Derry's one-point win over Tipperary was marked by some fine defensive work in the closing stages as the Oak Leaf side protected their tenuous 3-5 to 1-10 lead.

Antrim were ushered out of the intermediate title race by a Dublin outfit that showed courage in the closing phase of the game to come out on top by 2-10 to 1-12 after keeping the Saffrons at bay as they attempted to salvage the game.

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