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Down overcome wasteful Armagh to claim first Ulster win for four years

Eamonn Burns’ side advance to an Ulster semi-final on 25 June.

Down's Gearard McGovern with Stefan Campbell of Armagh.
Down's Gearard McGovern with Stefan Campbell of Armagh.
Image: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Down 0-15 Armagh 2-7

DOWN CLAIMED THEIR first Ulster SFC win in four years as they dispatched a wasteful Armagh by two points at Páric Esler this afternoon.

Much had been made of Armagh’s young attack heading into today’s game — on the back of them racking up 15-103 in seven Division 3 matches — but they failed to fire consistently in Newry, scoring only three points in the second half, as suspended manager Kieran McGeeney could only watch from the stands.

The home side settled the better of the two early on, registering the first four points of the game through Caolan Mooney, Connaire Harrison, goalkeeper Micheal Cunningham (free) and Jerome Johnston (free).

However, once Mark Shields smashed the ball to the net on 13 minutes, after the Mourne defence struggled under a high ball, Armagh found their feet in what was a gripping, end-to-end contest — for the first half at least.

A second Armagh goal just 10 minutes later, from championship debutant Andrew Murnin after Cunningham had saved from Stefan Campbell, gave the Orchard County the lead for the first time, 2-1 to 0-6.

McGeeney’s charges dominated the midfield sector for the remainder of the half but some wayward shooting prevented them from putting significant daylight between them and the hosts.

However, a monstrous point from Stephen Sheridan in first-half injury-time ensured Armagh brought the narrowest of leads into the changing rooms, 2-4 to 0-9.

Down emerged with great intent in the second period and an increased intensity in the tackle. And with O’Hanlon (twice, one free) and Maginn on target, they eased back ahead at the three-quarter stage, 0-13 to 2-5.

Eamonn Burns’ side then lost two key men in a matter of minutes — Niall Donnelly to a serious-looking injury and corner-back Anthony Doherty to a black card — as the game entered the finishing straight but the visitors failed to capitalise.

The Armagh attack that looked so potent at times in the first half struggled desperately for scores, substitute Anthony Duffy their only player to raise a flag from play in the second period, as Down’s swarm defence turned over possession and forced wides time and again.

The Orchard men spurned a couple of late goal chances, and kicked numerous soft wides, but Down were good value for their win, their first provincial victory since a quarter-final success against Derry in 2013.

Burns’ side advance to the provincial semi-final on 25 June, where they will play the winners of next weekend’s quarter-final between Cavan and Monaghan.

Scorers for Down: D O’Hanlon 0-4 (2f); C Harrison 0-3; C Mooney 0-2; M Cunningham (f), J Johnston (f), S Millar, C Maginn, B O’Hagan, D McKibben 0-1 each.

Scorers for Armagh: M Shields, A Murnin 1-0 each; A McKay, A Forker, P Hughes, S Sheridan, A Duffy, G McParland (f), J Clarke (f) 0-1 each.


1. Micheal Cunningham (Castlewellan)

2. Anthony Doherty (Downpatrick)
3. Gearard McGovern (Burren)
4. Darren O’Hagan (Clonduff) (c)

5. Darragh O’Hanlon (Kilcoo)
6. Conaill McGovern (Burren)
7. Caolan Mooney (Rostrevor)

8. Kevin McKernan (Burren)
9. Niall Donnelly (Tullylish)

10. Peter Turley (Downpatrick)
11. Conor Maginn (Bryansford)
12. Shay Millar (Glenn)

13. Jerome Johnson (Kilcoo)
22. Ryan Johnston (Kilcoo)
15. Connaire Harrison (Glasdrumman)


17. David McKibbin (Bryansford) for Donnelly (52) – injured
10. Joe Murphy (Ballyholland) for Johnston (58)
19. Mark Poland (Longstone) for Maginn (70)
14. Barry O’Hagan (Clonduff) for Harrison (52)
24. Niall McParland (Glenn)  for Doherty (56) – black card
25. Aidan Carr (Clonduff) for Turley (70)


1. Blaine Hughes (Carrickcruppen)

2. James Morgan (Crossmaglen Rangers)
3. Charlie Vernon (Armagh Harps)
4. Paul Hughes (Crossmaglen Rangers)

5. Aaron McKay (Dromintee)
6. Brendan Donaghy (Clonmore Robert Emmetts)
7. Mark Shields (St Killian’s)

8. Stephen Sheridan (Forkhill)
25. Joe McElroy (Armagh Harps)

10. Aidan Forker (Maghery)
11. Oisin O’Neill (Crossmaglen Rangers)
12. Rory Grugan (Ballymacnab) (c)

13. Jamie Clarke (Crossmaglen Rangers)
14. Stefan Campbell (Clan na Gael)
15. Andrew Murnin (St Paul’s)


18. Niall Rowland (Culloville Blues) for Forker (66)
19. Ciaran McKeever (St Patrick’s Cullyhanna)
20. Gavin McParland (Ballymacnab) for Grugan (58)
22. Anthony Duffy (Pearse Óg) for O’Neill (48)
9. Niall Grimley (Madden) for Vernon (41)

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Alan Waldron

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