Down’s second half rally sees off Derry

Two goals after the break turn Ulster Championship tie at Celtic Park

Down 2-17 Derry 1-15: A thunderous second-half performance from Down saw them come out on top at the end of a cracking Ulster Championship tie wtih Derry at Celtic Park.

Goals from Donal O'Hare and Mark Poland turned the tie the way of James McCartan's team, on a day of terrific scoring from both sides.

Derry found themselves ahead after a helter-skelter first half, thanks in the main to Mark Lynch's goal just short of the break. It was symptomatic of an opening half in which the Down defence couldn't handle Eoin Bradley.

On top of his four points from play, Bradley laid the goal on a plate for Lynch, turning full-back Brendan McArdle and feeding the Derry centre-back.


The former forward showed he has lost none of his skills for the move back the field, clipping past Brendan McVeigh with minimum fuss.

The goals led the highlights reel, but some of the point-scoring was right from the top drawer. James Kielt led the way for Derry with three wonderful kicks from distance but he was seen and raised by Kevin McKernan for Down.

It was Bradley, though, who ran the show for Derry, untouchable in the full-forward line. As well as setting up Lynch’s goal, he scored four from play himself, and it all added up to a 1-10 to 0-9 advantage at the halfway stage.

Derry pointed the first of the second half through Benny Heron, but Down were a different prospect after the break.

Between the 41st minute and the 55th, they outscored Derry by 2-5 to 0-1.

Poland’s hard running led directly to O’Hare’s goal before the pair combined again soon after, O’Hare laying out a simple chance for the Down centre-forward.

With 15 minutes to go, Down led by 2-14 to 1-12.

Although Kielt and Lynch tried to keep Derry in touch with some more fine shooting, Down stretched for home through the outstanding McKernan. They now go on to meet Donegal for a place in the Ulster final.

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times