Down’s Savage effort knocks out defending champions Tyrone

Ulster U-20 FC: Down 2-9 Tyrone 1-8

Tyrone U-20 star Ruairí Canavan held scoreless from play. Photo: Sportsfile

Down shocked All-Ireland U-20 champions Tyrone with a four-point win at O’Neill’s Healy Park as the holders went crashing out of the Ulster U-20 FC in the first round.

The Red Hands fielded with almost half of last year’s triumphant team, but were outplayed by their adventurous, confident opponents that defended superbly and struck for goals at crucial stages.

The Mourne defensive strategy was key to this shock result, with the Red Hand danger-men stifled, with Patrick McCarthy holding ace attacker Ruairí Canavan scoreless from play.

Down were able to pick holes in the home defence as they raced into an early lead through Oisín Savage and Oran Cunningham.

Tyrone drew level with scores from Oisín Gormley and Oisín Miller, but they were repeatedly frustrated by a Mourne defence in which Callum Rodgers, Patrick McCarthy and Thomas Hardy were excellent.

Centre-back Rodgers drove through for the lead point, but they were level at the end of the opening quarter, with Ronan Cassidy on target at the other end.

Both sides had goal chances early in the second quarter. First Gavin Potter crossed for Miller to punch against the crossbar, then Jason Morgan got on the end of a Hardy pass to bring a fine save from Conor McAneney.

But in the 18th minute, Down hit the net, and it was Savage who gave McAneney no chance with a crisply struck finish.

And they added a second goal three minutes before the break, Tiarnan Ryan and Rodgers heavily involved in the move that ended with Morgan striking low to the net for a 2-4 to 0-4 interval lead.

Canavan, frustrated in the opening half by the tight-marking McCarthy, moved to full-forward and almost created a goal for Gavin Potter, who had to settle for a point.

Canavan pulled back a couple of points from frees, but was denied goals by a Finn Murdock intercept and a superb block by McCarthy.

Tyrone pressed in numbers, getting to within four points with a Conor Cush ’45, but were vulnerable on the counter-attack, with Rodgers picking off his second score of the evening, and goalkeeper Oisín Treacy converting a brilliant free from close to the sideline.

Eoin McElholm’s late goal was only a minor consolation to the hosts.

Scorers – Down: O Savage 1-4 (0-3f), J Morgan 1-0, C Rodgers 0-2, O Cunningham, O Treacy (f), E Lougharn 0-1 each. Tyrone: E McElholm 1-0, R Canavan (2f), C Cush (1’ 45) 0-2 each, O Miller (m), R Cassidy, G Potter, O Gormley 0-1 each.

Down - O Treacy; P McCarthy; R Magill, F Murdock; T Hardy, C Rodgers, C Cunningham; O Murdock, F McAvoy; J Morgan, O Cunningham H Magill; T McCarroll, O Savage, T Ryan. Subs: J Kelly for C Cunningham, E Loughran for Morgan, J Doran for O Cunningham, Z Murdock for Rodgers.

Tyrone - C McAneney; M Rafferty, E McCaffrey, B Hughes; G Potter, F Taggart, B Cullen; R McHugh, F Hayes; C Cush, O Gormley, R Canavan; S O’Donnell, O Miller, R Cassidy. Subs: J Donaghy for Hayes, E McElholm for Gormley, S O’Hare for Cassidy, O Brolly for Miller, C Daly for Hughes.

Ref - A Marron (Monaghan).