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Mournemen land provincial crown after thrilling win in extra-time

Monaghan 1-14 Down 3-15 (after extra time)


Down’s Patrick McCarthy with Donnach Swinburne of Monaghan. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

Down’s Patrick McCarthy with Donnach Swinburne of Monaghan. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

©INPHO/Declan Roughan

Down’s Patrick McCarthy with Donnach Swinburne of Monaghan. Credit: INPHO/Declan Roughan

Down won a thrilling Ulster U-20 FC Final against Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh last night.

The game, which had been postponed by a week after the tragic death of Monaghan captain Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh in the hours after his team’s semi-final win over Donegal, went all the way to extra-time, where Down eventually pulled away from their tiring opponents.

Seán Jones kicked eight points for Monaghan, but despite missing some straightforward chances during the second-half, Down had 10 players on the scoresheet as they clinched their first provincial silverware at U-20/21 level since 2009.

Monaghan had started brightly with points from Daragh McElearney and Ronan Boyle and even though Down hit the net on seven minutes through Ruairí O’Hare, the impressive Jones replied with a series of scores from all angles.

With Down getting a grip of midfield after the water break, they moved ahead, helped by points from O’Hare, Shealan Johnston and Peter McMullan, but McElearney palmed to the net for Monaghan, who led by 1-9 to 1-7 at the end of a topsy-turvy first half.

Jones, Donnach Swinburne and Jason Irwin added to Monaghan’s tally during the third quarter, but with Andrew Gilmore making a big impact off the bench by kicking 1-2 (including a spectacular goal), Down regained the lead going into the last 10 minutes.

Monaghan responded through Kyle Connolly and Jones to level it up at 1-14 to 2-11, but they were unable to find any further scores during extra-time.

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Both sides started the extra 20 minutes with 14 men after added-time black cards for Monaghan sub Jack Doogan and Down’s Danny Magill.

Keeper Charlie Smyth converted a brace of long-range frees for Down during extra-time, while Gilmore and substitute Shea Croskey were also on target before another sub, Justin Clarke, palmed home their third goal at the end of a lightning-fast counter-attack.

Monaghan could hold their heads up high after a traumatic fortnight for these young players, but it’s Down who progress to an All-Ireland semi-final against Connacht champions, Roscommon.

Down scorers: Andrew Gilmore 1-3 (0-2f); Ruairí O’Hare 1-2; Justin Clarke 1-0; Shealan Johnston 0-2 (1f); Tom Smyth 0-2; Charlie Smyth 0-2f; Anthony Morgan 0-1; Peter McMullan 0-1; Danny Magill 0-1; Shea Croskey 0-1.

Monaghan scorers: Seán Jones 0-8 (3f); Daragh McElearney 1-1; Jason Irwin 0-2; Donnach Swinburne 0-1; Ronan Boyle 0-1; Kyle Connolly 0-1.

Down: C Smyth; Fettes (Joint-Capt.), Magill, McCarthy; T Smyth, Morgan, Toal; Murdock, Close; Brown, Johnston (Joint-Capt.), Danny Magill; McMullan, O’Hare, McGovern.

Subs: Gilmore for Brown (39); McCusker for Fettes (47); Clarke for T Smyth (57); Croskey for McGovern (58).

Extra-time subs: McManus; McGovern for D Magill (14); Brooks for McCarthy (20).

Monaghan: Farrelly; Grimes (Capt.), McPhillips, Boyle; McElearney, Hanratty, Meehan; McPhillips, Wilson; Hamill, Treanor, Slevin; Donnach Swinburne, Jones, Irwin.

Subs: Connolly for Slevin (43); McGeown for Hamill (51); O’Hanlon for Meehan (56); Doogan for McPhillips (57); McDonald for Irwin (60 + 3).

Extra-time subs: Irwin for Wilson (8); Hamill for O’Hanlon (H-T); R Hanratty for Jones (14).

Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone).

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