Joint-manager Lynch delighted with Down’s battling qualities

By Shaun Casey

DOWN survived a stunning second-half comeback from Monaghan to collect the Ulster Intermediate Championship title, to follow up on their Junior Ulster and All-Ireland success of last season.

A Laoise Duffy goal at the start of the second period gave the Mourne ladies a ten-point lead, but Monaghan clawed their way back into contention, outscoring the eventual victors 0-10 to 1-1 after the turnaround.

But Down did enough to just hold on by the minimum of margins and joint boss Peter Lynch (pictured) was delighted for his girls. “I’d say the final 10 minutes were probably the most nerve-wracking I’ve had,” laughed Lynch at full time.

“I’ve told the players I’m calling my doctor in the morning to up the blood pressure medication because if you can through that you can through anything. We expected Monaghan to come hard at us the second half,

“I think our first half performance gave us the platform for the win. Monaghan threw the kitchen sink at us there and we were able to weather it. Those games where you can get over the line crawling on your fingernails, they reallystand to you going forward.

“The fact we weathered that storm and were able to get enough scores, enough possession to win the game, speaks volumes for the grit and determination of these players.

“Even when their backs were to the wall, there was no giving in, they still believed they could get over the line and win the game.

“Those are the important things to take away from it.”

While Down held on, it was their first half performance that gave them that foothold in the game. The inclusion of Eimear Fitzpatrick to the starting lineup was an inspired decision as she hit 1-4 in the opening period and earned the Player of the Match award.

And the Mourne ladies had to do it the hard way, beating Cavan, Antrim and Monaghan to get their hands on provincial silverware for the second year running.

“It’s probably one of our better performances (the first half). After the early goal in the second half, we thought we could push on, but the opposite happened as Monaghan got a grip,” added Lynch, who takes the side with Caoibhe Sloan.

“You have to recognise what Monaghan threw at us the second half. I think they’re a serious outfit too. A lot of those players came into into Monaghan when they were a senior outfit and playing a high grade.

“Our time in charge has progressed in catching up with the stronger teams in Ulster and beyond. It’s a big day for Down. It shows that we belong on the stage, and we want to push on to better things.

“The last time we won in Ulster Intermediate it was only ourselves and Fermanagh.

“This time we had to beat Cavan, we had to beat Antrim and beat Monaghan, so I suppose it carries more weight that we come through a hard avenue to win it.

“We’re delighted with the players and all the people involved.”

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