Ulster SFC quarter-final
Down 2-13 Donegal 1-11
By Michael McMullan
AN impressive start to the second half saw Down push into a match-winning position to shake off a wasteful Donegal an book their spot in Sunday’s semi-final with Armagh
It’s the first time Donegal have lost an opening championship game since their 2010 defeat a Down team including Conor Laverty and current selector Marty Clarke.
Jason McGee hit the net after three minutes but Down settled into the game with points from Pat Havern and the impressive Ryan Johnston.
Caolan Ward kicked Donegal 1-2 to 0-2 ahead before Down found the net with their first goal.
Niall Kane’s kick-out found Ryan McEvoy on the wing; Daniel Guinness into the run of Eugene Branagan. After the Kilcoo debutant was bottled up, Liam Kerr chip lifted the ball and sped away from Caolan McColgan to blast to the net at Patton’s near post.
The side were level at the break (1-4 each) before a lively start to the second half.
Firstly, Daniel Guinness was denied by a combination of Caolan Ward and Eoghan Bán Gallagher before Danny Magill made a huge block on Caolan McColgan at the other end.
Donegal went ahead with points from Ryan Johnston and Eugene Branagan kicking over from the wing for a 1-7 to 1-5 lead.
Then came another hammer blow with a Pat Havern penalty after a foul on Ryan Johnston in the 53rd minute.
Conor O’Donnell and sub Oisin Gallen made a difference for Donegal in the latter stages, but it was Down who were always able to breakaway.
Down: Pat Havern 1-3f (1 pen, 3f), Ryan Johnston 0-3 (2m), Liam Kerr 1-0, Daniel Guinness 0-2, Andrew Gilmore 0-2, (1f), Eugene Branagan 0-1, Conor Poland 0-1 and Danny Magill 0-1
Donegal: Jason McGee 1-1, Daire Ó Baoill 0-3, Conor O’Donnell 0-2, Ciaran Thompson (2f), Oisin Gallen 0-1, Shaun Patton 0-1 45 and Caolan Ward 0-1
Down: Niall Kane, Pierce Laverty, Anthony Doherty, Shane Annett, Danny Magill, Niall McParland, Micéal Rooney, Daniel Guinness, Ryan McEvoy, Ceilum Doherty, Ryan Johnston, Liam Kerr, Donagh McAleenan, Pat Havern, Eugene Branagan
Subs: Conor Francis for S Annett (50), Andrew Gilmore for E Branagan (54), Shealan Johnston for R Johnston (61), Conor Poland for S McParland (66), Gerard Collins for D McAleenan (71)
Donegal: Shaun Patton, Mark Curran, Brendan McCole, Caolan Ward, Caolan McColgan, Stephen McMenamin, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Caolan McGonagle, Jason McGee, Daire Ó Baoill, Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson, Hugh McFadden, Jamie Brennan, Conor O’Donnell
Subs: Luke McGlynn for M Langan (INJ 16), Oisin Gallen for H McFadden (46), Kieran Tobin for C Ward (50), Rory O’Donnell for S McMenamin (66), Kane Barrett for L McGlynn (71)
Attendance: 9, 139
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)