Down Under-20s edge Monaghan in emotional Ulster final

The memory of the late Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh honoured in extra-time thriller

Brendán and Esther, the parents of teenager Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh, captain of Monaghan’s under-20s team who tragically died in a car crash attended the game. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Inpho

Brendán and Esther, the parents of teenager Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh, captain of Monaghan’s under-20s team who tragically died in a car crash attended the game. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Inpho

 

Down 3-15 Monaghan 1-14 (After extra-time)

Down were crowned Ulster champions on an emotional evening for Monaghan football, winning an extra-time thriller at the Athletic Grounds.

Monaghan contributed immensely to a memorable contest as they honoured the memory of their late captain Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh on an occasion cast in the shadow of tragedy.

The number six shirt worn by Ogie prior to his death in a road accident two weeks ago, was absent, but the pride and the heart of his team-mates shone brightly, until they ran out of energy late on.

And it was Down who finished strongest, outscoring their opponents by 1-4 to nil in extra-time.

They had recovered from a shaky start to take the lead with a Ruairi O’Hare goal in the eighth minute, and scores from Anthony Morgan, Tom Smyth and Shealan Johnston took them to the water break with a 1-4 to 0-5 lead, three of Monaghan’s scores coming from Sean Jones.

With Odhran Murdock and Tom Close giving them a midfield edge, the Mourne lads continued to push forward, but Monaghan were dangerous on the breakaway, hitting scores through Jones and Jason Irwin.

And in the 26th minute, they took the lead as Darragh McElearney punched to the net from Donnach Swinburne’s cross.

Jones brought his tally to six as Monaghan took a 1-9 to 1-7 lead into the interval.

Andrew Gilmore came off the bench to fire home a brilliant Down goal, edging them back in front in the 48th minute, and adding a couple of points from frees. Monaghan pressed strongly, but defensive heroics from Ryan Magill and Anthony Morgan saved Down from a number of dangerous situations.

Down soaked up the pressure, and were always dangerous on the breakaway, but they too came up against stoic defenders in Thomas McPhillips and Ronan Boyle.

They were hanging on to a slender two points lead as Monaghan came storming back with late scores from Kyle Connolly and an eighth from Jones to tie it up at 2-11 to 1-14.

Down led by two midway through extra-time, with points from Gilmore and Shea Croskery, and killed the game off with a Justin Clarke goal on the breakaway.

Down: C Smyth (0-2 frees); T Fettes, R Magill, P McCarthy (0-1); T Smyth (0-2), L Toal, A Morgan (0-1); O Murdock, T Close; D Magill (0-1), S Johnston (0-2, 1 free), J McGovern; P McMullan (0-1), E Brown, R O’Hare (1-1).

Subs: A Gilmore (1-3, 2 frees) for Brown (38 mins), S Og McCusker for Fettes (48 mins), J Clarke (1-0) for T Smyth (57 mins), S Croskery (0-1) for McGovern (59 mins), McGovern for Magill (74 mins), P Brooks for McCarthy (81 mins).

Monaghan: R Farrelly; R Grimes, T McPhillips, R Boyle (0-1); D McElearney (1-1), M Meehan, S Hanratty; G McPhillips, J Wilson; D Treanor, J Irwin (0-2), M Hamill; S Slevin, S Jones (0-8, 3 frees), S Swinburne (0-1).

Subs: K Connolly (0-1) for Slevin (43 mins), J McKeown for Hamill (52 mins), O O’Hanlon for Meehan (56 mins), J Doogan for McPhillips (57 mins), L McDonald for Irwin (60+3 mins), Irwin for Wilson (69 mins), Hamill for O’Hanlon (70 mins), R Hanrattty for Jones (74 mins).

Referee: K Eannetta (Tyrone)

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