Down show grit to come back to beat Sligo in extra time and make Tailteann Cup final

Ryan McEvoy rode to Down’s rescue at crucial stages of a game that ran to over 100 minutes in total

Down's Ryan McEvoy celebrates scoring the point that takes the game to extra time. Photograph: Tom Maher/Inpho

Tailteann Cup semi-final: Down 1-20 Sligo 2-15

For a team whose nerve under pressure has been questioned, the manner of this Tailteann Cup semi-final win will surely do wonders for Down.

Last year’s 8-16 demolition of Laois at this same semi-final stage certainly did little for Conor Laverty’s crew who went on to lose the final to Meath.

Down will face Laois all over again on July 13th and after pulling through this extra-time epic, they will return to Croke Park with a steely confidence.


Odhran Murdock’s goal from a penalty in the second-half of extra-time proved to be the game’s decisive score.

Down were equally grateful to Ryan McEvoy who, not for the first time this year, rode to their rescue at crucial stages of a game that ran to over 100 minutes in total.

It was McEvoy’s point in the 77th minute that forced extra-time at 0-18 to 2-12, cancelling out a Darragh Cummins score for Sligo moments earlier which looked like it might be the winner.

McEvoy, who earlier this year hit an equaliser against Westmeath in the league, also won the penalty that Murdock converted.

All of that stoppage time in the regular game was required due to treatment for Down substitute Oisin Savage who hit the ground heavily in the 61st minute following a collision with Sligo’s Nathan Mullen, earning the defender a straight red card.

It’s understood that Savage was taken to hospital for assessment. Down manager Laverty described it as a worrying time.

“It was genuinely scary, that’s the truth,” said Laverty.

Patrick O’Connor scored Sligo’s first goal in the 18th minute following a brilliant solo run by Cian Lally and the Connacht semi-finalists led 1-6 to 0-8 at half-time.

Sligo got that margin out to four points in the 56th minute when a snaking passing move at the Davin End climaxed with Canice Mulligan palming in from close range.

Down, beaten in significant games by Meath, Armagh and Westmeath across the last 12 months, showed impressive character to dig deep and mine out victory from there.

They scored five of the last six points in normal time to force extra-time and then, in the additional 20 minutes, came out on top thanks largely to that Murdock goal.

“I thought our fitness levels shone through,” said Laverty. “I thought the hard work that these boys have done and some of the training sessions that we’ve put them through has been gruesome.”

Down: J O’Hare; C Doherty, R McEvoy (0-2), P Fegan; S Johnston (0-1, D Guinness (0-1), P Laverty (0-2); D Magill (0-1), P Havern (0-7, four frees); P McCarthy, F McElroy, M Rooney (0-1); J McGovern (0-1), O Murdock (1-0, pen), D Magill.

Subs: L Kerr (0-3) for McElroy h/t, O Savage for R Johnston 53, C McCrickard for McGovern 58, R Magill for D Magill 65, E Brown for Savage 66, C Mooney (0-1) for Havern 73. S Annett for Brown e/t, R Johnston for S Johnston 75, D Magill for Havern 82, Brown for Doherty 87.

Sligo: A Devaney; E Lyons, E McGuinness (0-1), P McNamara; B Cox, D Cummins (0-2), N Mullen (0-1); P Kilcoyne, C Mulligan (1-0); C Lally, A McLoughlin, S Carrabine (0-4, two frees); L Deignan (0-2), P O’Connor (1-1), N Murphy (0-3, two frees).

Subs: M Walsh (0-1) for O’Connor 66, M Gordon for McNamara 69, E Smith for McLoughlin 69, D Conlon for Lally 76. L Casserly for Deignan e/t, D Quinn for Carrabine 76, O’Connor for Kilcoyne 80, P Spillane for Mulligan 86.

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).