Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 23 March 2018

Clarke keeps Down in title hunt

Down 1-16 Monaghan 0-11

Down kept their league final hopes alive with an accomplished display that was too much for their neighbours at Pairc Esler in Newry last night.

Monaghan never built on a good opening half and remain in serious relegation trouble after being brushed aside in the second half.

Down led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time having played with the wind, but five wides and several efforts that were short left their supporters in the 4,500 crowd frustrated.

Monaghan did not score from play until Conor McManus found the range a minute before the break, but by then Paul Finlay had kicked four good frees and also landed a long-range effort in the dying seconds of the half.

Down, with Mark Poland busy as usual at centre-forward, put some fine passing movements together but often the end product wasn't there.

Wing-back Declan Rooney burst forward to hit two points from long range, while Danny Hughes also landed a brace.

But it was Marty Clarke who landed the score of the half when he pointed with his left boot on the run out on the left wing during a spell when Down hit three points in as many minutes.

Conor Maginn and Paul McComiskey extended Down's lead with a couple of points inside two minutes of the restart and Monaghan looked a beaten docket at that stage.

Finlay reduced it to 0-10 to 0-7 with his sixth point but Down pulled away when Benny Coulter found the target after 46 minutes.

Poland and McManus exchanged points before Monaghan hopes were dashed when Coulter was hauled down by full-back Vincent Corey and Marty Clarke blasted home a penalty and then a free to lead by double scores, 1-13 to 0-8 after 57 minutes, as Down ran out easy winners.

Scorers -- Down: M Clarke 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3f); P McComiskey 0-3; D Hughes; D Rooney; M Poland 0-2 each; C Maginn; B Coulter; A Carr 0-1 each. Monaghan: P Finlay 0-8 (0-6f); C McManus 0-2 (1f); C Galligan 0-1

Down: D Alder; B McArdle, G McCartan, C Garvey; D Rooney, K McKernan, D Gordon; P Fitzpatrick, K King; D Hughes, M Poland, C Maginn; P McComiskey, B Coulter, M Clarke. Subs: M Doran for Garvey (65); R Murtagh for Poland (65); D McCartan for McArdle (66); A Carr for Coulter (66)

Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, V Corey, C Walshe; N McAdam, D Mone, D Hughes; O Lennon, D Clerkin; P Finlay, C McGuinness, J Turley; M Downey, T Freeman, C McManus. Subs: B McKenna for Lennon (32); B O'Brien for Freeman, (65); O Duffy for McGuinness (65); C Galligan for Hughes (65); S Smyth for Downey (68)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)

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