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Down triumph in All-Ireland U20 B decider

Saturday 25th May 2024

All-Ireland U-20 “B” Hurling Championship (Richie McElligott Cup) Final


Down 0-20 Roscommon 0-11

By Kevin Egan at Croke Park

Down were always the better team as they picked up their second Richie McElligott cup in three years in Roscommon’s expense this afternoon in Croke Park, though it was only in the final 20 minutes that they stamped their undoubted class all over the hallowed Dublin 3 soil and eased to victory.

Shea Pucci at centre back and Finn Turpin in the half-forward line were the key figures as Down took control of the middle third of the field, but they struggled to put early scores on the board and put their first three efforts wide of the target.

Meanwhile Roscommon’s very first attack saw Liam Óg Coyle flick the ball into the path of Seán Canning, who duly split the uprights for the game’s opening score.

And so it continued for much of the first half, with Down doing more of the hurling, but Roscommon making their efficiency count on the scoreboard. Turpin and team captain Michael Dorrian were the next two scorers after Canning’s opener, but Roscommon looked sharp when they got the ball into scoring positions and a lovely long range effort from Ryan Conlon nudged them 0-5 to 0-3 in front by the midway point in the first half.

However, while Down racked up the wides, shooting nine in all the first half, Roscommon missed a couple of good chances too, with Paddy Fallon shooting for goal from nearly 25 metres out when a point might have been the safer option, while Conor Morris turned inside his man well and tried to drive for goal, but looked for a pass when it wasn’t really on – albeit he might have felt aggrieved about the lack of support available.

Turpin pointed on the run and Noah Rogers picked off a good one as Down moved 0-8 to 0-6 ahead after a good run, but a superb effort from Tommy Fleming before half-time would have given Roscommon heart, as they turned around to play with the aid of the swirling breeze, which seemed to blow from the Davin End of the ground.

A run of Paddy Fallon frees, punctuated by scores from Dorrian and Turpin, left it finely poised at 0-10 each with six minutes gone in the second half, but Down were about to step up a gear and leave Roscommon behind.

By now, both sides were guilty of wides, including several Fallon frees, but overall their forward division was starved of possession and gradually, but inexorably, Down started to turn the screw. Turpin, Shea McCarthy, Shea Pucci and Odhran Birt hurled a lot of ball and they could have killed the game with two goal chances, only for the crossbar to save Roscommon on both occasions, first denying Dorrian and then Birt.

Down were undaunted, and the point of the day from the Hogan Stand side from Rogers pushed them three clear, and they never led by less than a goal again.

Canning’s third point of the day didn’t stem their momentum and the last six points of the day all went the way of the Mourne County, with late goal chances for Fallon and Micheál Hussey both blocked to deny the Rossies even a consolation goal on what is their third successive McElligott Cup final defeat.

Scorers for Down: Ben Christie 0-6 (0-5f), Michael Dorrian 0-4, Finn Turpin 0-3, Noah Rogers 0-3, Seán McCarthy 0-2, Pearce Smyth 0-1f, Odhran Birt 0-1.

Scorers for Roscommon: Paddy Fallon 0-5f, Seán Canning 0-3, Ryan Conlon 0-1, Rory Coyle 0-1, Tommy Fleming 0-1.

Down: Pearce Smyth; Leigh Morgan, Ben Taggart, Patrick McGarry; Donal Magee, Shea Pucci, Deaglán Mallon; Seán McCarthy, Odhran Birt; Finn Tupin, Tiernan Connolly, Calum O’ Neill; Ben Christie, Michael Dorrian, Noah Rogers.

Subs: Rory McCamphill for O’Neill (20), Tiernan Kelly for Connolly (41), Conor Leneghan for McCarthy (54), Adam Rogan for Rogers (60+1), Cormac Blaney for Birt (60+2).

Roscommon: Jack Ryan; Jimmy Hoey, James Dillon, Oisín Flynn; Rory Coyle, Tommy Fleming, Micheál Hussey; Keelan Ryan, Liam Óg Coyle; Paddy Fallon, Seán Canning, Ryan Conlon; Rory Lyons, Conor Morris, Brian Mannion.

Subs: Tommy Morris for Conlon (39), James Connolly for Lyons (44), Gavin Meares for Mannion (53), DJ Hession for Flynn (54), Aidan Hoare for R Coyle (60+1).

Referee: Pádraig Dunne (Laois).