Wednesday 26 July 2017

Game at a glance

Man of the match

Benny Coulter (Down)

James McCartan has overseen quite a makeover in Down in a short space of time, but it was the most celebrated player of the 'lost' decade (2000s) who stoked the fires so impressively. Benny Coulter has never enjoyed a more fruitful Ulster Championship occasion, his 1-4 from play a footnote to a wonderful all-round display.

Turning Point

Just about any time Benny Coulter had the ball could be chalked down as a turning point, but his second point on 59 minutes, ending a move he had started himself after Rory Kavanagh had been turned over, brought Down level for the first time, 2-5 to 0-11, and gave them the conviction they needed.

Talking Point

Once again the use of extra defenders in an Ulster Championship match stifled any prospect of the game opening up. But that's their call, guarded as it is, and entertainment is not part of the brief. Most of Donegal's wounds were self-afflicted as they tossed away possession repeatedly with stray handpasses.

Ref Watch

Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

Hard to fault McQuillan for anything. Kept the cards flowing when they were required and was more relaxed than any other referee in the Championship so far with the handpass. Only twice did he feel the need to blow for what he felt were errant deliveries.

What They Said

Benny Coulter (Down captain)

"I couldn't bear to lose another Ulster Championship first-round match. When you get a wee bit older you start to look in front of you and realise there is not long left, maybe two or three years and, at the end of the day, you do want to win something."

John Joe Doherty (Donegal manager)

"Turnovers are going to happen anyway in tough matches, in the heat and when player gets tired, they tend to make mistakes. Both sides made mistakes, but unfortunately we made more than they did."

Match Statistics

Wides: Down 6 (1), Donegal 11 (5); Extra time: Down 2 (1), Donegal 5 (3)

Frees: Down 23 (11), Donegal 18 (10); Extra time: Down 5 (1), Donegal 8(4).

Yellow Cards: Donegal 3 (Barry Dunnion 37, Adrian Hanlon 43, Anthony Thompson 56), Down 7 (Kalum King 5, Kevin McKernan 9, Mark Poland 22, Declan Rooney 64, Ronan Murtagh 85, Conor Maginn 88, Darren O'Hagan 90)

What next?

Down now meet Tyrone on Saturday, June 19, at a venue to be decided; Donegal are bound for the qualifiers, which begin on the weekend of June 26/27.

Irish Independent

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