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23rd Apr 2023

Down shatter Donegal’s confidence as they win Ulster championship tie

Lee Costello

Down Donegal

Down 2-13  1-11 Donegal

Down shattered what was remaining of Donegal’s confidence as they beat their rivals in the Ulster championship quarter-finals and will now progress to play Armagh in the semi-final.

The game got off to a perfect start for Donegal, as Jason McGee brushed off two defenders to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, before slotting home a tidy goal.

Conor Laverty’s rejuvenated team didn’t panic however, and with Ryan Johnstone constantly driving forward and breaking lines, they tipped their way back into the game.

Down Donegal

Then late in the half, Eugene Branagan had the ball at his feet while being tackled by two men who lost sight of the ball, as it broke to Liam Kerr running in full flight.

The half forward put the burners on, ate up the space in front of him and then stuck the ball into the near post to scores his team’s opening goal of the game.

Both teams made mistakes in the first half in particular, and Donegal’s shot selection was concerning as they took a lot of efforts from outside the scoring zone, and racked up many wides.

The Mourne men came out in the second half with a new burst of life and really started to take control in the game. Johnstone broke free once again before being pulled down to win a penalty.

Pat Havern stepped up to take responsibility and his goal gave the home side a bit of breathing room.

Aidan O’Rourke’s men did manage to get back into touching distance, dominating possession for a 10-minute spell and kicking consecutive scores to bring the game back to two.

Down Donegal

However, when Laverty started to run the bench they looked to be the fresher team and Donegal became rather desperate with their kicking.

They looked like a team that knew they were beaten in the latter stages, and Down were able to smell blood as substitutes Conor Poland and Andrew Gilmore hit back-to-back scores.

The revolution in Down has officially begun as their rise coincides with the downfall of Donegal, and they march into the semi-finals to play Armagh.

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