Thursday 12 December 2019

Nicholson bags brace to power Down through

Down 3-24 Armagh 3-7 - Ulster U-21 hurling championship semi-final

Brett Nicholson scored twice for Down as they overcame Armagh in the Ulster U-21 hurling semi-final. Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE
Brett Nicholson scored twice for Down as they overcame Armagh in the Ulster U-21 hurling semi-final. Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Down recovered from a shaky start in Newry last night to book their place in the final.

Armagh took a surprise two-goal lead as Dylan McKenna and Tiernan Nevin scored to put the visitors 2-4 to 0-4 ahead.

McKenna's deft flick to the net after 10 minutes gifted Armagh their first major and Nevin's good finish put them six points up.

Down found their feet as Peter Mason converted five long-range frees from five attempts to steady the ship.

Full-forward Myles Nicholson finished off a nice move involving his brother Brett and Eoghan Sands to restore Down's lead in the 24th minute.

The first of Brett Nicholson's two goals came just before the break and really knocked the stuffing out of Armagh.

He pulled on a loose ball on the ground and 'keeper Liam McGrane allowed it to trickle into the net. That bit of fortune gave Down a 2-10 to 2-5 lead and Armagh never looked like getting level.

The intensity drained out of the game in the second period as Down picked off points. Mason pulled the strings and sent over four from play. Armagh forward Cailly Gorman showed electric pace to grab a well-taken consolation goal but Nicholson added Down's third to set up a showdown with Antrim.

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Scorers: Down: P Mason 0-9 (5fs), B Nicholson 2-1, M Nicholson 1-2, E Sands 0-4, J McManus 0-3, J Doran 0-2, L Savage, C O'Neill, D Freer 0-1 each; Armagh: C Gorman 1-1, T Nevin 1-0, D McKenna 1-0, N Green (2fs), C Duffy 0-2 each, C McAnallen (f), C Farrell 0-1 each.

Down: S Savage; B Byers, R Brannigan, G O'Neill; J McGrath, C O'Neill, M McCullough; J McManus, S Mageean; P Mason, B Nicholson, L Savage; C Fitzsimmons, M Nicholson, E Sands Subs: J Doran for Fitzsimmons (40), J Crowe for S Savage (53), D Gilliland for McCullough (53), D Freer for G O'Neill (58)

Armagh: L McGrane; M McAvoy, P Duffy, P McKearney; N Anscombe, S Renaghan, C McAnallen; N Green, T Lennon; G McKeown, T Nevin, C Duffy; D McKenna, D McCreesh, C Gorman Subs: R Conway for Lennon (27), C Farrell for McCreesh (46), J Brennan for McKearney (58), N Gannon for C Duffy (58)

Referee: O Elliott (Antrim)

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