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Down stun All-Ireland champions Tyrone in Ulster U20 Championship quarter-final

Thursday 30th March 2023

From Francis Mooney at O'Neills Healy Park
29 March, 2023 20:30
Tyrone's Ruairi Canavan looks to break free of Down's Patrick McCarthy.

EirGrid Ulster U20 Football Championship quarter-final
Tyrone 1-8 Down 2-9

DOWN shocked All-Ireland U20 champions Tyrone with a four-point win at O’Neills Healy Park as the holders went crashing out of the series.

The Red Hands fielded with almost half of last year’s triumphant team, but were outplayed by an adventurous, confident opponent 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, and Patrick McCarthy holding ace attacker Ruairi Canavan scoreless from play.

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

The Red Hands drew level with scores from Oisin Gormley and Oisin 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 did hit the net, and it was Oisin 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.

Ruairi 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 two within four points with a Conor Cush ’45, but were vulnerable on the counter-attack, with Callum Rodgers picking off his second score of the evening, and goalkeeper Oisin Treacy converting a brilliant free from close to the sideline.

Tyrone C McAneney; M Rafferty, E McCaffrey, B Hughes; G Potter (0-1), F Taggart, B Cullen; R McHugh, F Hayes; C Cush (0-2, 1 ’45), O Gormley (0-1), R Canavan (0-2, 2f); S O’Donnell, O Miller (0-1, m), R Cassidy (0-1).

Subs J Donaghy for Hayes, E McElholm (1-0) for Gormley, S O’Hare for Cassidy, O Brolly for Miller, C Daly for Hughes

Down O Treacy (0-1, f); P McCarthy; R Magill, F Murdock; T Hardy, C Rodgers (0-2), C Cunningham; O Murdock, F McAvoy; J Morgan (1-0), O Cunningham (0-1), H Magill; T McCarroll, O Savage (1-4 (3f), T Ryan.

Subs J Kelly for C Cunningham, E Loughran (0-1) for Morgan, J Doran for O Cunningham, Z Murdock for Rodgers

Referee A Marron (Monaghan).