Hurling & Camogie

Down and Donegal to meet in Conor McGurk Cup final

The Ardsmen saw off Antrim while Fermanagh were the Tir Chonaill’s semi-final victims

Pearse Og McCrickard Down’s Pearse Og McCrickard (left) scored 11 points in the win over Antrim (SYSTEM)

Antrim 0-28 Down 3-28

THREE second-half goals proved the difference as Down qualified for the final of the Conor McGurk Cup at the expense of Antrim at a freezing Dunsilly on Tuesday.

Antrim opened with the first three scores, with Down responding in kind and this set the tone for an open and entertaining first period with some good scores taken from both.

Rian McMullan and Paul Boyle were prominent for the Saffrons, while Pearse Og McCrickard led the way for Ronan Sheehan’s men in the first half.

Twice, Down moved two clear in the first half but Antrim responded on each occasion to draw level, rattling off five on the spin late in the half to ensure all six starting forwards were on the board.

Down’s Ciaran Milligan did have the final say of the half with his second of the evening, but it was Antrim leading 0-15 to 0-12 at the change of ends.

The Ardsmen came flying out of the traps in the second period and after McCrickard converted an early free, the first of the goals arrived as Tim Prenter steered the sliothar home off a break.

Down would lead by that goal when their second major arrived on 47 minutes with Prenter the provider for Chris Egan – who had missed a gilt-edged chance earlier – this time whipping home.

McMullan and Boyle continued to carry the fight for Antrim who got to within four at one point, but a third Down goal 12 minutes from time would put the cap on this one as a loose ball was sent to the net by Dáithí Sands.

McCrickard, Sands and McGrattan kept the board ticking over late on as Ronan Sheehan’s men deservedly reached Saturday’s final.

Antrim C McFadden; P Duffin, R McGarry, R McCormick; R McCloskey, C Boyd (0-1), D McMullan; S Rooney (0-1), E Trainor; P Boyle (0-6), S McAuley (0-1), N McKenna (0-3); N McGarel (0-1), R McMullan (0-13, 9 frees), A Bradley (0-1)

Subs C McGarry for A Bradley (HT), F McCurry (0-1) for S McAuley (HT), D Wilson for R McCormick (HT), C McKernan for R McCloskey (46), N O’Connor for E Trainor (46), S Walsh for D McMullan (60), M McGibbon for S Rooney (60)

Down S Keith; J McManus (0-1), T Murray, C Cassidy; M Fisher (0-2), C Teggart, B Trainor; L Savage, C Milligan (0-2); F Turpin (0-1), E Sands (0-2), P Og McCrickard (0-11, 6 frees, 1 65); T Prenter (1-2), C Egan (1-1), D Toner (0-1).

Subs A Furlong for C Cassidy (HT), P Smyth for S Keith (HT), N McFarland for M Fisher (HT), T McGrattan (0-2) for F Turpin (HT), D Mullan for C Milligan (HT), M McAreavey for J McManus (40), D Sands (1-2) for C Egan (48), J Duggan (0-1) for D Toner (48), J Murphy for B Trainor (65)

Referee Tarlach Conway (Derry)

Donegal 2-16 Fermanagh 1-12

TWO late goals from from sub Josh McGee Cronolly put some gloss on a stuttering Donegal display against a youthful but game Fermanagh side at icy Brewster Park.

The winners looked to be cruising in the first half but after leading by 0-11 to 0-6 at the break they needed Cronolly McGee’s two goals in the 66th and 69th minutes.

Mickey McCann’s men now travel to Belfast to meet Down in the final

Donegal were swiftly out of the traps with Ruairi Campbell striking a fine point after just 20 seconds.

The rangy Liam McKinney and Sean McVeigh added to their tally as Fermanagh struggled to get to the pace of the game.

Veteran John Duffy got the home side off the mark, but McKinney swept over another point for a much a sharper looking Donegal by the fifth minute.

Both sides then hit two wides apiece before the lively Danann McKeogh found the target for the Ernesiders to leave Donegal leading by 0-4 to 0-2.

It was then Tir Chonaill full-forward Gerry Gilmore converted a great sideline cut to give his side a three-point lead.

Donegal’s burly centreback Stephen Gillespie tried to take on about five players but was blown for overcarrying, much to the chagrin of some of the Donegal fans as he lost his helmet in the scrimmage.

But Donegal remained in the ascendancy against a much younger and lighter Fermanagh side.

Fermanagh’s best player Luca McCusker hit the first of his three first-half points as Campbell made it 0-8 to 0-4.

Gilmore and McCusker swapped points from frees, in the run-up to half-time as Conor Gartland made it 0-11 to 0-6 at the break.

Fermanagh came back strongly in the third quarter even though Gilmore made it a six-point game from a free.

McCusker and Gilmore resumed their scoring duel with pointed frees.

But youthful Fermanagh took over and a series of pointed frees from McCuksker left just two points between the sides as Donegal led by 0-13 to 0-11 with 50 minutes gone.

Gilmore and McKinney stretched the lead with two points but the usually reliable Gilmore hit two uncharacteristic wides.

But the game was effectively sealed when McGee got the first of his two goals in the last five minutes to seal victory.

Luca McCusker got a late goal for Fermanagh who put up quite a battle.

Donegal White; C Curran, C Bradley, G Browne; J O’Loughlin, S Gillespie, C O’Grady (0-2); B MacIntyre, R Hilferty; S McVeigh, C Gartland (0-2), L McKinney (0-3); P Kelly, G Gilmore (0-6), R Campbell (0-3)

Subs J McGee Cronolly (2-0) for Peter Kelly (29), G Browne for R Hilferty (41), S Ward (0-1) for O Kelly (55), C Finn for R Campbell (60)

Fermanagh M Curry; D Bannon, R Porteous, C Duffy; A Flanagan, R Bogue, R McGurn; B Teehan; O Johnston, L McCusker (1-95f) B Corrigan, J Duffy (0-1), T Keenan, J Tormey (0-1) D McKeogh (0-1),

Subs: U O’Reilly for J Duffy (53), T Burns for R McGurn (59), C McManus for B Corrigan (63) O McPhillips for D Bannon (64).

Referee James Clarke (Cavan)