Sport

Darragh O'Hanlon goal chance was game's crucial moment

Down's Kevin McKernan is shown a black card by referee Joe McQuillan
Neil Loughran and Kenny Archer

Ulster Senior Football Championship final: Down 0-15 Tyrone 2-17 

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT DOWN

THEIR resurgence has been overstated and their performance against Monaghan should be reconsidered in the context of a poor display from the latter.

Down did well to get to this final but they fell far short of winning it.

They appeared a little overawed in the early stages and lacked urgency – including not taking quick kick-outs when doing so might have given them more space to attack.

Caolan Mooney and Ryan Johnston showed that they can mix it at the top level. However, although those speed merchants can do damage, Down don’t have enough big men to make them competitive against the big guns.

Overall, though, the team showed that the spirit exhibited in this year’s Championship remains.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT TYRONE

THE Red Hands are now clearly too good for the rest of Ulster, having won by 11, nine, and eight points respectively.

Their strength in depth continues to impress; this time around Declan McClure and Ronan O’Neill (below) made massive contributions off the bench, meaning that it didn’t matter that Cathal McShane and Conor Meyler didn’t really get into the game when they came on.

After their amazing accuracy against Donegal, Tyrone still haven’t lost their occasional unwelcome knack of wasting good opportunities. They hit at least half-a-dozen bad wides and Padraig Hampsey really should have converted his goal chance.

TOP SCORE

BOTH number nines kicked monster scores, although Niall Donnelly’s smile suggested he may not have been going for his quite as much as Conall McCann was.

There was no doubting the quality of Tyrone’s second goal, though: Darren McCurry delivered a great kick-pass over the top to Ronan O’Neill, who went one better than Padraig Hampsey and dinked a clever shot over Michael Cunningham and into the net.

TURNING POINT

TRAILING by one point with injury-time nearing, Darragh O’Hanlon missed a glorious opportunity to ripple the Tyrone net and put the Mournemen two points up.

After a Darren O’Hagan shot rebounded off the inside of the upright, Jerome Johnston gained possession and saw his clubmate bombing up on his outside.

O’Hanlon is exactly the man Down fans would’ve wanted with the ball in hand, but he sent his shot wide of the post – similar to Eoin McHugh’s miss against Tyrone in the semi-final.

KEY BATTLE

Ronan McNamee (Tyrone) v Connaire Harrison (Down)

THE Glasdrumman man was the star of the show when Down shocked Monaghan in their semi-final but he never got going in this final – starting badly by dropping the first ball into him in the first minute, albeit with Padraig Hampsey and Colm Cavanagh close to him.

Down needed Harrison to be a focal point but instead Ronan McNamee was the player offering impetus to his attack, bursting forward on several occasions.

The sense was that Harrison wasn’t fully fit after his injury scare and he rarely got out in front of his marker to offer any goal threat for Down.

REF WATCH

Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

AWARDED some handy frees in the first half for both sides, but copped some flak for the black card decisions that affected either side.

Kieran McGeary appeared to pull down Gerard McGovern to earn a black card before the break, though there was an argument the Down man ran into him, while Kevin McKernan was black carded for a bodycheck early in the second half.

The sending off of Cathal McCarron, on two yellow cards, appeared harsh as the first yellow, for a foul on Jerome Johnston, was very soft.

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