By Niall Gartland
DOWN u-20 coach Declan Morgan hopes they can carry the momentum of a truly impressive victory over Tyrone into Wednesday’s Ulster Championship semi-final against Monaghan.
The Down youngsters pulled off a shock upset against the reigning All-Ireland champions when they claimed a thoroughly deserved 2-9 to 1-8 victory, the four-point margin of defeat flattering to the vanquished Red Hands.
Conor Laverty’s side ticked all the boxes – structurally solid, dangerous in attack and showing composure beyond their years when Tyrone fought hard in the third quarter. It was a massive lift to football in the county but one swallow doesn’t make a summer and they’ll be hoping to piece together another starring performance against the Farney in six day’s time.
Speaking after the Tyrone game, coach Declan Morgan said they’d no reason to try to bring the lads back down to earth after such a thrilling victory.
“These are young lads, you build momentum with them ideally, you want to keep things rolling along. That’s the joy of working with boys of this age group.
“In a sense, they’re fearless and now they know they have each other’s back as well. When that’s the case, you have a team that’s going places. These championships can be over so quickly as it’s knock-out so you just want to keep the momentum going.”
Describing the victory as ‘monumental’, Morgan also admits they were motivated to the hilt by the prospect of playing the All-Ireland champions on their home patch of O’Neill’s Healy Park.
“It’s a monumental result for Down football, I can’t overstate that. Tyrone’s form-line was better than ours, they’re All-Ireland champions and it was a home game. We couldn’t have got a tougher game but it wasn’t hard to motivate our boys, they really wanted to put in a performance.
“If we had’ve lost we’d have been disappointed but proud, so we’re even more proud of the way they saw it out.
“It was a mighty performance and arguably something that’s been missing from Down football. These boys are determined to show they’re different.”