Down overwhelmed by Tyrone side on fire - 20/07/03

2003 Ulster Football Championship - Final Replay
Tyrone 0-23 v Down 1-05
@ 2.30 p.m. Clones, Sunday 20th July 2003

Replay specialists Tyrone were far too good for Down from start to finish and easily seized the day with a devastating performance, adding the Anglo-Celt Cup to the national league title garnered earlier this year. Captain Fantastic Peter Canavan kicked eleven points and Sean Cavanagh and Owen Mulligan were also outstanding as Down, whose frustration resulted in two sendings-off, were totally overwhelmed. Tyrone signalled their intent from the off and put in a purposeful and highly-impressive first-half display to establish an eight-point interval cushion. Paddy O'Rourke's men simply had no answer to the rampant O'Neill County.

Mulligan gave Tyrone the lead inside the opening minute with a sweet point after Kevin Hughes - who started at midfield - had already dropped an earlier effort short into the hands of Down 'keeper Mickey McVeigh. The scoring from the winners would continue in relentless fashion. When Martin Cole, who was already on a yellow card at this stage (for fouling Peter Canavan off the ball), dragged Canavan to the ground in front of the posts in the fifth minute, the inimitable O'Neill County captain made no mistake from the resultant free.

Liam Doyle opened Down's account from a simple free in the seventh minute. Within a minute, however, Canavan floated over a glorious free after Brendan Grant had pushed Mulligan in the back to break up a flowing Tyrone offensive. Wing back Conor Gormley finished Tyrone's next move - yet another exhibition of quality team football - and Mickey Harte's men led by 0-4 to 0-1 after ten minutes. Canavan was looking much more lively than he had done in the opening stages of the drawn game and the legendary Errigal Chiarain clubman knocked over two points from play inside 60 seconds to extend his team's advantage to five points.

When Tyrone goalie Pascal McConnell fouled the ball, Michael Walsh was gifted Down's second point but again Tyrone's response was immediate - a pinpoint free from Brian McGuigan picked out Mulligan who casually kicked his second point. A John Lavery foul on Mulligan - who was proving a real handful - gave Canavan his fifth point and with only 20 minutes played, the rampant national league holders led by six, 0-8 to 0-2.

Sean Cavanagh had a stranglehold on proceedings in midfield and Down were all over the place. Mulligan added his third point from play and a superb raid involving Canavan and Cavanagh ended with the latter's goalbound shot being kicked off the line by Down corner back Lavery. The reprieve was short-lived as Canavan tapped over the resultant 45. Tyrone were playing with an astounding hunger and tenacity. Going forward, they were turning on the style big time; in defence, they were hunting in packs and forcing Down's forwards to subsist to mere scraps. It was all too easy for Tyrone and even when an element of complacency began to inevitably creep into their play, Down were unable to take advantage, sending a couple of good chances wide of the target.

When Canavan dribbled through on the Down goal he looked odds-on to score a goal but McVeigh spread himself well to deny the full forward. Doyle then pointed a free in first-half injury time but Kevin Hughes popped over his county's eleventh point in the fourth minute of added time. The short whistle sounded with Tyrone well ahead, 0-11 to 0-3. Down, who failed to register from play in the opening period, were grateful of the interlude. Tyrone had played some superb football and could have been even further ahead but for a tendency to over-elaborate.

As it turned out the second half was even more of a procession. Points were swapped on the resumption before a lengthy stoppage interrupted play for treatment to Down goalkeeper McVeigh and Tyrone full back McAnallen at either end. Canavan floated over an eighth-minute free, before the game's three most influential players Mulligan, Canavan and mighty midfielder Cavanagh helped themselves to points to make it 0-16 to 0-4 with only twelve minutes played in the first half.

Fifteen minutes of the half had elapsed by the time Doyle sent over Down's first score from play and the skies opened up to produce a real downpour as conditions at Clones went from tricky to treacherous. It made no difference to Canavan who delivered his ninth point from a free following yet another foul on Mulligan. With Down never looking like helping themselves to the goalfest of seven days earlier, the match had now disintegrated into a rout and was well over as a contest with fourteen minutes remaining. Hughes dinked over a lovely point off his left boot from a tight angle and Down replacement Glen McMahon spurned a goalscoring opportunity at the other end.

A Cole trip on Mulligan resulted in a second yellow for the Mourne County corner back and a tenth point for top scorer Canavan. Amazingly, Down were reduced to thirteen men when Dan Gordon was sent off by referee Brian White for elbowing Ciaran Gormley in the face after being penalised for over-carrying. Corner back Ryan McMenamin brought the winners' tally to 20 points and substitute Frank McGuigan added another before Peter the Great put 17 points between the sides with a free from a tight angle. A lapse in concentration at the back allowed Ronan Murtagh in for a consolation goal for the Mourne men but Ger Cavlan quickly knocked over a superb long-range point at the other end. The rout had been completed.

Tyrone now go into the All-Ireland series with confidence higher than ever. Down, on the other hand, looked strangely impotent without their talismanic captain Gregory McCartan and have their work cut out to recover from this thumping in time for the forthcoming Qualifier against Donegal, which takes place this saturday in clones.

Tyrone: P McConnell, D Carlin, C McAnallen, R McMenamin, C Gormley (0-1), C Gourley, P Jordan, K Hughes (0-2), S Cavanagh (0-1), B Dooher (0-1), B McGuigan, S Mulgrew, E McGinley, P Canavan (0-12), O Mulligan (0-4). Subs: G Cavlan (0-1), F McGuigan (0-1), M Coleman

Down: M McVeigh, J Clarke, B Grant, M Cole, J Lavery, A O'Prey, A Molloy, S Ward, B Burns, L Doyle (0-3), M Walsh (0-2), B Coulter, J McCartan, D Gordon, R Murtagh (1-0). Subs: C McCrickard, A Scullion, G McMahon

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