Friday 20 April 2018

The game at a glance

Man of the Match

Conor Laverty (Down)

The thrust for this Down comeback came from absolute midfield dominance in the second half but Conor Laverty's pace, movement and accuracy edged them over the line. His two points in the middle of their initial surge were inspiring.

Turning point

Ultimately, Aidan Carr's penalty just before half-time threw Down a lifeline they scarcely deserved, cutting a nine-point deficit at the time to a much more manageable six at half-time.

Talking point

Apart from the performance of the referee, the contrast between each side in either half couldn't have been starker. Monaghan oozed class and control in the opening half but then completely lost their way. This performance from Down won't nearly be good enough to test either Tyrone or Donegal in an Ulster final.

Ref watch

When a winning crowd baits a referee as they did here, especially after such a dramatic victory, you know there has been controversial decisions made. Was Michael Duffy calling back Down full-back Brendan McArdle to book him when Conor McManus took the quick free for Monaghan's second-half goal? Could Down have had a second penalty in the second half for a foul on Danny Hughes? The questions were endless.

Magic moment

Conor Laverty's first point involved the most impressive approach work of the day with Brendan McArdle's catch over his head beneath his own posts the source and imaginative play from Ambrose Rogers and Mark Poland giving Laverty the space and time to swivel and score at the other end.

What they said

James McCartan (Down manager):

"Phone-a-cab were waiting for me outside before half-time, I had already booked him. It was very disappointing at half-time and I was really disappointed the way the boys played because I knew they were better than that. I just asked them to go out and put their bodies on the line."

Eamonn McEneaney (Monaghan manager):

"It is very disappointing at this moment in time. I suppose we might look at the positives when we get a chance but the reality is we had the game won and we gave it to them."

Match statistics

Wides: Down 5 (0 first half); Monaghan 12 (8 first half).

Frees: Down 24 (11); Monaghan 19 (10).

Yellow Cards: Down 3 (Kevin McKernan 28, Eoin McCartan 51, Brendan McArdle 57); Monaghan 4 (Vinnie Corey 35, Colin Walshe 46, James Turley 59, Tommy Freeman 61).

Attendance: 11,149.

What next?

Down are into an Ulster football final against Tyrone or Donegal on July 22, Monaghan face second-round qualifiers on July 14/15.

Irish Independent

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