Monan not complaining after long road to final
Down 0-25 Derry 1-16
Ulster SHC semi-Final Replay
HIS team are involved in a hectic itinerary, but Down manager Gerard Monan is not complaining.
Ten weeks of sustained action have clinched the Christy Ring Cup and secured a place in the Ulster final against Antrim, yet while Monan feels there could be more to come from his side, he is glad of a bit of respite now that the Ulster Council has deferred a decision on when to play the final.
"We played for six successive weeks in winning the Christy Ring Cup, then we had a week's break and now we have gone three on the trot to reach the Ulster final," explains Monan. "We will have to take stock now as some boys are going away but for the moment we are happy to take this win."
Yesterday Down were much more economical in possession and clinical in their finishing as they maintained their momentum in impressive style. In the first quarter they built up a solid 0-7 to 0-3 lead, Paul Braniff's three scores underpinning their authority.
But centre-half-back Liam Hinphey was a driving force for Derry and, along with his brother Kevin at midfield, he sparked a recovery.
After conceding four scores on the bounce, the Oak Leafers roared back into contention in the 19th minute when Alan Kelly prodded in a goal from close range following a surging run from Oisin McCloskey.
At 0-9 to 1-4, Ger Rogan's side began to move with much more cohesion but their impetus was stifled when Kelly was red-carded by referee Tony Carroll in the 27th minute following an off-the-ball clash with Patrick Hughes.
A superb point from the impressive Donal Hughes and a brace from Braniff gave Down a 0-12 to 1-5 interval cushion and with Braniff a rich source of scores – he landed 12 in all – Down maintained their advantage at 0-16 to 1-8.
Although Derry subs Paddy Henry and Mark Craig plundered a haul of 10 points, Down tore down the home straight, led by man of the match Braniff.
Scorers – Down: P Braniff 0-12 (8fs, 1 '65'), D Hughes 0-5, J Coyle 0-3, K McGarry 0-2, P Sheehan, M Turley, J McCusker 0-1 each. Derry: P Henry 0-7 (3fs), M Craig 0-3, A Kelly 1-0, T McCloskey, K Hinphey 0-2 each, A Grant, B Rodgers 0-1 each.
Down – S Keith; M Conlon, P Flynn, P Hughes; F Conway, C Woods, M Ennis; D Hughes, E Clarke; K McGarry,P Braniff, P Sheehan; D Toner, G Johnson, J Coyle. Subs: P Henry for Cleary, M Craig for Quigley (both h-t).
Derry – D McDermott; D McCloskey, P Kelly, J McCloskey; R McCloskey, L Hinphey, M O'Hagan; O McCloskey, K Hinphey; B Rodgers, A Grant, P Henry; P Cleary, B Quigley, A Kelly. Subs: M Turley for Toner (50), J McCusker for Mcgarry (53), B Nicholson for Conlon (58), L McMullan for Coyle (65), M Hughes for Ennis (66).
Ref –T Carroll (Offaly)