Hurling & Camogie

Ronan Sheehan hails McCrickard contribution to Down victory as Ardsmen retain McDonagh Cup status

Down manager Ronan Sheehan made special mention of county secretary Sean Óg McAteer following his side's win over Kildare
Down manager Ronan Sheehan made special mention of county secretary Sean Óg McAteer following his side's win over Kildare

Joe McDonagh Cup round four: Kildare 3-13 Down 1-27

DOWN manager Ronan Sheehan paid special tribute to Pearse Óg McCrickard after his spectacular performance in Hawfield in his team’s must-win against Kildare.  

McDonagh Cup status was on the line when the two teams went head-to-head and when his team needed him most, McCrickard stood up in some style with a magnificent 15 points.  

“Pearse Óg is a very special player, he always has been,” said Sheehan. 

“He won a Feile skills challenge many years ago and that shows the kind of player he is. He’s a beautiful hurler. He had his first cousin Ruairi there in the back line and their grandfather, God rest him, Joe McCrickard, was a contemporary of my own late father and he was a fierce hurling man.

"I’m sure they were both watching the game from up above today and I’m sure they’d be very proud of Paul, and then Pearse Óg and Ruairi. Pearse Óg is just an outstanding player, the kind you could just sit back and watch all day.  

“I think that is something that is missed though. Look at Gerry Keegan there for Kildare, young Cian Boran, some of the balls caught there by Rian Boran under his crossbar.

"If he was doing that in the Liam McCarthy Cup people would be raving about it, but because it happens here in this competition nobody notices it, but these guys are super hurlers and if it wasn’t for the local media these lads wouldn’t be getting a mention.

"There might not be as many of them but there’s four or five lads there this evening on both teams who are as good as anybody."

It was Down who were always a step ahead. They 0-9 to 0-3 ahead at half and although Declan Flaherty pulled a 22nd minute goal back for the home side, McCrickard’s accuracy ensured that Down led by 0-15 to 1-6 at the break.  

When Down moved into a 0-20 to 1-10 lead they were threatening to run away with the game but a penalty from Kildare goalkeeper Paddy McKenna in the 49th minute gave them renewed hope and there was only three points between the sides with ten minutes to go.

However, an Eoghan Sands goal in the 64th minute, brilliantly created by Tim Prenter, ended any hopes of Kildare comeback and by the time McKenna scored a second penalty in injury time it was a mere consolation.  

Sheehan was thrilled to secure another year at McDonagh Cup level.  

“For counties like ourselves, and Kildare, McDonagh Cup victories are probably a step too far and there is a gap to the likes of Laois or Offaly, but you are never going to get there if you don’t maintain your status, so today is a massive result for Down hurling," he said.

"It’s a chance to be in the McDonagh Cup for the fourth year in a row, and we’ll have three home games next year.

"You can see today what a difference one or players can make to a county like ourselves.

"We had Eoghan Sands and Daithi Sands back there, Eoghan was outstanding there. He’s been travelling the world for the last six, nine months and lads have to do that, life goes on, and maybe we’ll be without a different few players next year, but that does make it difficult.

"But that group have done everything I have asked of them over the last five years and for a county our size to be in Division 2A and the McDonagh Cup for four years in a row is brilliant.

"To come down here today and beat a very good Kildare team, and deservedly win to be honest, I thought we hurled very well, is absolutely super."

The Down manager also took time to make a special mention of the county secretary Sean Óg McAteerwho was missing from the sideline due to ill health.  

“The only downside today is our county secretary Sean Óg McAteer, who is a great supporter of this team and Down GAA in general, is unfortunately sick at the minute. I’d like to mention him because what he does for this group, and Down GAA, is outstanding. He’s had some unfortunate situations with some of these trolls online but we hope Sean Óg is better soon and back on the sideline with Down GAA,” said Sheehan.  

DOWN: S Keith; D Mallon, C Taggart (0-3), J McManus (0-1); M Conlon, R McCrickard, M Fisher (0-1); J Doran 0-1, P Óg McCrickard (0-15, 0-8 frees, 0-1 65); D Sands, E Sands (1-0), F Turpin (0-2); O McManus, L Savage (0-4), C Egan. Subs: R McCusker for Doran (49); S Martin for Egan (49); T Prenter for O McManus (62); P Sheehan for E Sands (64); N McFarland for J McManus (70+2).    

KILDARE: P McKenna (2-0 pens); N O’Muineacháin, R Boran, C Shanahan (0-1); C McCabe (0-1), S Leacy, A Goss; B Byrne, K Harrington; J Byrne (0-1), J Burke (0-1), G Keegan (0-2), D Qualter (0-5, 0-4 frees), D Flaherty (1-0), C Boran (0-2). Subs: P Divilly for Harrington (27); J Travers for Goss h-t; C Byrne for Flaherty (45); P Dolan for Divilly (63); R Hogan for Qualter (65).   

REFEREE: Kevin Jordan.