Down into Ulster U20 final after dismissing Fermanagh

Down's Sean Campbell in action during Friday's Ulster U20 Football Championship semi-final against Fermanagh at the Athletic Grounds Armagh
Picture by Philip Walsh 
Sean Mahoney

DOWN booked their place in the Ulster U20 final after a comfortable victory over Fermanagh in the Athletic Grounds last night.

Before a ball was thrown in, this game had evolved into much more that a place in final. They carried with it the hopes of a better future at senior level for Down and Fermanagh. Both teams boasted players from successful campaigns such as Kilcoo’s Ulster winning and senior club All-Ireland finalists campaign and St Michael’s Enniskillen MacRory and Hogan Cup winning side, in 2019.

There were late changes too with Burren’s Odhran Murdock coming in for Peter McMullan, while Fermanagh’s much talked about Zak Kyle started instead of Ronan McHugh. Take your goals and the points will come seemed to be Down’s mantra as they tried the noughties Arsenal style of trying to walk the ball into the net. But with all that said they were full value for their six-point lead at the break.

It was an entertaining contest with point teams registering opening points within the first 90 seconds, then Down showed their intent when Ruairi O’Hare rattled the net with only four minutes played after grabbing a looping pass. And Down would have bagged more goals had it not been for Fermanagh’s Hogan Cup hero goalkeeper Sean McNally who made three outstanding saves from point blank.

The Mourne men led 1-05 to 0-03 at the first water-break with Danny Magill, captain Shealan Johnston his Kilcoo club-mate Anthony Morgan, as well as Tom Close on target, while Fermanagh stayed in touch thanks to points from Darragh McBrien and Ronan McCaffery. The second quarter was end-to-end, Conor Love and McBrien kept the Erne scoreboard ticking over, while three points from John McGovern along with another from his Clonduff team-mate Eamonn Brown, which gave Down the advantage at the break.

The second half was much more evenly balanced as Down weren’t so gung-ho towards getting a second goal but instead chipped in with some nice points with Gilmore, Close and goalkeeper Adam Smyth scoring. Fermanagh were keen to show what they were made off and McCaffrey’s brilliant point from the outside of his boot closed the gap to 0-09 to 1-13 by the second water-break. Joe McDade and Fionan O’Brien grabbed Fermanagh’s other points and they pressed in the last quarter but Down held firm, with Paddy McCarthy exceptional in defence.

The Mourne men were content eating up the clock and keeping possession as they look ahead to an Ulster final.


Ulster U20 FC semi-final: Monaghan 3-10 Donegal 1-11

MONAGHAN booked their place in the Ulster U20 Championship final thanks to a storming second-half performance at Brewster Park last night.

Having had two players sin-binned within the first quarter and managing not a single score from play, the Farney went in five down at half-time, with Donegal good value for their 0-9 to 1-1 lead.

Monaghan flew out of the traps for the second-half, however, with a string of points and a Donnach Swinburne goal putting them comfortably out in front. A Ryan McFadden goal threatened to drag Donegal back into it late on but another accomplished finish from Swinburne put the icing on the cake for Monaghan.

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