Down booked a semi-final showdown with Christy Ring rivals Derry after shaking off the threat of Armagh to secure a 12-point victory.
The sides were locked on 2-7 to 1-10 at half-time with Armagh’s goals coming from Newry’s Eoin McGuinness and Martin Moan and Fintan Conway raising the green flag for Down.
However the Mourne men turned on the style in the second half, with Gareth ‘Magic’ Johnston (0-6) leading the attack and they hit a purple patch within five minutes of the restart where Down scored 1-4 to put the game out of Armagh’s reach.
James Coyle got the ball rolling with a goal after 40 seconds of the restart and Down rammed home their authority with further points from Danny Toner, captain Johnson and a brace of goals from the talented substitute Caolan Bailie.
Armagh did keep plugging away with Ryan Gaffney (0-6) and the lively Cahill Carvill creating chances and McGuinness struck a brilliant goal but it was Down’s day as another substitute Michael Turley rattled home Down’s fifth goal.
Down boss Michael Johnston was content with the performance, especially in the second half.
“Our fitness and our hurling really told in the second half once we regrouped and got ourselves balanced – so we are happy enough and we are pleased with some of scores,” said Johnston.
“Any day you hit 3-20 is a good day but we conceded 3-14 as well so there is something we have to work on as well.”
Scorers – Down: G Johnson 0-6 (4fs), C Bailie 2-0, J Coyle, F Conway 1-2 each, P Toner 0-5, M Turley 1-1, S Dineen 0-2, D McManus 0-1 Armagh: R Gaffney 0-6 (5fs), E McGuinness 2-0, M Moan 1-0, D Coulter 0-2, C Carvill 0-3, S Gaffney, J Corvan, P McKearney, P Sheehan 0-1.
Down – S Keith, S Ennis, C Cassidy, M Hughes, D McManus, F Conway, M McCullough, D Hughes, J McManus, S Dineen, M Nicholson, P Sheehan, D Toner, G Johnston, J Coyle. Subs: C O’Neill for McCullough 20’, C Bailie for Nicholson 36’, M Turley for Coyle 61’.
Armagh – S Doherty, S Renaghan, C Clifford, C Devlin, K McKernan, N Curry, S Gaffney, J Corvan, D Coulter, R Gaffney, C Carvill, A McGuinness, M Moan, E McGuinness, P McKearney. Subs: T Nevin for K McKernan 42, B Nicholson for Sheehan 53, P Lappin for S Gaffney 62, O Curry for Clifford 61.
That old mantra about goals winning games wasn’t true in the case of Donegal giving Derry a fright in yesterday’s Ulster SHC quarter-final at Celtic Park.
The hosts were 1-11 to 2-4 up at half-time with Kevin Campbell netting both Donegal goals. Kevin Hinphey, Alan Grant – 17 seconds into the second half – and Brendan Douban notched the goals for Derry, who were made sweat as Ronan McDermott of Donegal scored a hat-trick of goals.
However, the Oak leafers’ great range of point scorers made the difference and they progressed with relatively few alarms to the last four.
Scorers – Derry: K Hinphey 1-4, A Grant 1-1, D Douban 1-0, P Henry 0-3, R Convery, D Foley 0-2 each, M Warnock, S McGuigan, J O’Dwyer, A Kelly, E McGuckin 0-1 each.
Donegal: R McDermott 3-2, K Cambell 2-2, S McVeigh 0-2, E McDermott 0-1.
Derry – B Robinson; M Warnock , C Quinn, S McCullagh; A Rafferty, L Hinphey, R McCloskey; K Hinphey, B Quigley; S McGuigan , R Convery, P Henry; J O’Dwyer, A Grant, A Kelly.
Subs: T Mc Closkey for Quigley (53); D Foley for Henry, (54); Brendan Douban for Kelly (56); E McGuckin for McCloskey (63); Michael Conway for Hinphey (67).
Donegal – P Burns: M McGrath, B Tourish, J O’Loughlin; P Doherty, J Boyle, N Cleary; D Cullen, S Curran; S Gillespie, S McVeigh, E McDermott; K Campbell, R McDermott, B Lafferty.
Subs: D McLoughlin for Cleary, (6), Donal McLoughlin for S Curran (51)
Ref – J Clarke (Cavan