Monday 23 April 2018

McCartan's half-time pep talk inspires Down revival


Orla Bannon

Not for the first time Down staged a magnificent fightback against Monaghan as they snatched a share of the spoils in Pairc Esler.

Down trailed by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time in yesterday's Allianz League Division 2 tie and the brilliant Jack McCarron, who kicked seven points for the visitors, stretched Monaghan's lead to seven points in the first minute of the second-half.

However a 40th minute goal from Conor Maginn ignited a Down comeback and they closed the gap with points from Conor Garvey, Jerome Johnston and impressive substitute Ryan Johnston.

After the goal, Down had all the momentum and outscored their opponents by six points to two.

They scored the last three points of the game with Donal O'Hare notching an injury-time free from 35 metres to bag a point for the Mournemen.

At half-time James McCartan reminded his players of the 2012 Ulster semi-final between the teams when his side came from nine-points down to win by a point.

"I mentioned it, that we had been here before against Monaghan," said the Down manager.

"I questioned the players and thankfully they showed that this team does have a wee bit of bottle.

"We're disappointed after what was the worst first-half that Down have had in my time but we're relieved to get a point out of it. I don't think we got lucky, we earned that point."

In the first half Monaghan were completely dominant in midfield.

Down got the first point but Monaghan scored six points without reply in 12 minutes. Jack McCarron and newcomer Thomas Kerr settled quickly and scored five of those points, three from free-kicks after some indisciplined defending from Down.

Paul Finlay scored the other point with a superb long point on the run on a fine afternoon for the Ballybay man.

Jerome Johnston made the most of a rare chance to get the ball in hand and stopped the rot with a point for the Mournemen in the 18th minute.

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan then converted a free from at least 50 metres. Down needed something special after the break and Conor Maginn's superb soccer-style finish to the net, after a pass from Mark Poland, was the catalyst they needed.

Suddenly Down were the team with all the momentum and the belief and sub Ryan Johnston proved to be a superb ball-carrier and punched holes in the Monaghan defence.

Donal O'Hare reeled Monaghan in with three frees in the last quarter, including the equaliser in stoppage time. Darragh O'Hanlon had the chance to win the game for Down but dragged his 40-yard free well wide.

Scorers – Down: D O'Hare 0-4 (4fs), C Maginn (1-0), J Johnston 0-2, R Boyle, C Garvey, R Johnston, D O'Hanlon (f), E McCartan 0-1 each. Monaghan: J McCarron 0-7 (2fs), C McManus, T Kerr 0-2 (1f) each, R Beggan (f), P Finlay, C McGuinness 0-1 each

DOWN – S Harrison 6; D McCartan 7, P Turley 7, D O'Hagan 6; R Boyle 5, A Carr 6, C Garvey 6; G McArdle 5, R Mallon 7; D O'Hanlon 7, M Poland 7, J Johnston 7; D O'Hare 7, N Madine 5, C Maginn 6. Subs: R Johnston 7, for McArdle (21), E McCartan 6, for Madine (55), D Savage 5, for J Johnston (67)

MONAGHAN – R Beggan 6; F Kelly 6, D Wylie 6, R Wylie 6; C Walshe 7, D Mone 7, C Boyle 6; G Doogan 7, P Finlay 7; P Keenan 6, S Gollogly 6, T Kerr 7; J McCarron 8, C McGuinness 6, D Malone 7. Subs: C McManus 7 for McGuinness (42), K Duffy 6 for Mone (49), V Corey 6 for D Wylie (54), K Hughes 5 for Gallogly (58), O Lennon 5 for Kerr (68)

REF – Cormac Reilly (Meath)

Irish Independent

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