Sports

Beaten Down to take on Monaghan for All-Ireland quarter finals chance

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Beaten Down to take on Monaghan for All-Ireland quarter finals chance thumbnailDown’s Connaire Harrison and Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly battle for possession

IT WAS always going to be a difficult task, but Tyrone showed why they are the kingpins of Ulster with a devastating second half to blow away Down's dream of an Ulster title.

Eamonn Burns' men must now pick themselves up and get ready to beat Monaghan in less than 13 days.

Whether Down failed to take enough chances or in the first half or Tyrone were simply happy to keep them at arm's length is arguable but there can be little doubt that the Red Hands were deserved winners and a different class.

What matters though is that the Mourne men went down fighting, they never gave up and maintained a collective spirit throughout, and 15 points is not a bad return against a team of Tyrone's stature.

Tyrone are much further down the line of development than Down and only gametime and big match experience will improve D ow n's chances.

Nerves played a part in their lack of killer instinct but they were also up against one of the top four teams in Ireland.

Darren O'Hagan did an excellent job on Mark Bradley while Gerard McGovern held Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh relatively quiet, so much so that he was substituted.

Down were two points in arrears at half but still in the game. O'Hanlon's shot at goal should have put them ahead at the break but he blazed wide, which meant that they went in with a what-might-have-been mentality and they failed to come out in the second half.

With both sides packing the defences the game was played at a pedestrian tempo with spurts of pace and the odd off-the-ball incident.

Down showed their intent early with the first kick of the game going long into Harrison but it bounced off his chest and Tyrone's mass defence easily cleared and this was an indication of things to come.

The Mourne men were keen to get off the mark and Jerome Johnston's shot drifted wide before Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey registered the first point of the game.

Glenn's Shay Millar replied with a fine point from under the far stand.

A feature of Tyrone's approach was that they were able to mix their style of play up and Peter Harte struck a sweet point after good work from Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly and then Hampsey tagged on his second of the afternoon.

Ryan Johnston was showing more of his capabilities after slicing through three Tyrone men but he steered his shot wide.

Donnelly then received an intelligent pass from Harte and with plenty of space he lashed between the posts to give Tyrone 0-4 to 0-1 lead with 13 minutes gone.

O'Hanlon kicked wide before Cavanagh kicked Tyrone's first wide, but still Down probed and Ryan Johnston launched a glorious high effort that dropped over the bar and onto the net for an inspirational point.

His brother Jerome was then harshly blown up for over carrying, Mooney kicked wide and Harrison lost possession, but importantly Down were making inroads on the Tyrone defence. But Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh responded with a fine score.

Down finished the opening half strongly but should have made more hay when the sun shone so encouragingly.

Niall Donnelly's long-range point did give the Down fans something to cheer, and Darragh O'Hanlon converted a free before Ryan Johnston showed his blistering pace with a 50-metre run, and a pass to Harrison, who quickly laid off to Maginn who struck sweetly between the sticks for a marvellous score.

Down were finding their stride, but not swagger and as half-time approached Down captain Darren O'Hagan aimed for a point but struck the post, Jerome Johnston collected the rebound and held the ball up.

O'Hanlon came through like a train and with just the keeper to beat he blazed his shot wide. It was a massive blow for Down as it was the right man to take the shot, but on this occasion he missed the target. Only a point separated the sides but Mattie Donnelly put two between the sides when he opted to fist over with a goal-chance on offer.

Half-time: Down 0-05 Tyrone 0-07 If they turned their noses up at goal opportunities in the first half, then Tyrone certainly delivered knock-out blows in the second period.

David Mulgrew fisted over only 13 seconds into the restart as the Red Hands stretched their lead. Conor Maginn kicked an uncharacteristically bad wide, while Mattie Donnelly did likewise at the other end.

Peter Harte is a fine footballer and he knows how to draw a foul, as despite clearly losing his footing, with his head down he powered forward and Down showed naivity to foul when there was no need. Cavanagh converted the resultant free. Mark Bradley's point then put five points between teams and Down seemed to be struggling.

Furthermore Kevin McKernan's black card was another huge blow to Down and it would have encouraged Tyrone to see such an experienced player exit the pitch early.

Mooney and Conaill McGovern kicked wide as the scores Down badly needed just missed the target, which profligacy Tyrone punished.

Harte's point put Tyrone 0-11 to 0-06 ahead and Down continued to kick wide as Bradley next struck a great point before Conall McCann curled a beautiful 40-metre effort between the sticks - a sight to behold.

Tiernan McCann's point put more daylight between the sides but Mooney restored some pride in the jersey with a wellstruck point. Ryan Johnston quickly added another score and Down looked to be finding their groove again, even if Tyrone were free-wheeling to the finish.

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