Mitchell's goal-scoring threat the difference as The Downs go marching on
Westmeath hurler Niall Mitchell scored yet another crucial goal for The Downs as they qualified for the Leinster senior football final.
The Downs' hung on for a 2-12 to 0-17 victory over Meath champions Ratoath with Mitchell's well-taken second half goal proving decisive.
Ratoath did score the last five points of the game, and had a chance to level it up deep into injury time, but Jack Flynn's long-range free tailed wide and the Westmeath men hung onto reach their first Leinster final in fifty years.
Westmeath's Tailteann Cup winner Luke Loughlin was very impressive for the Downs, the dynamic forward scoring five points as well as having a hand in many others.
The athletic Kevin O'Sullivan also put in a very effective hour at wing forward while Mitchell's sharp attacking play was pivotal.
He set up Ciaran Nolan's first goal after a mistake in the Ratoath defence and then finished the second one well, after some good work by Andrew Kilmartin. Mitchell's goal-scoring threat offers the Downs a valuable dimension in attack - he also netted the only goal in their county final win over St Loman's last month.
You can watch some of Lar Wall's side's impressive attacking play below.
That pick-up from Niall Mitchell though 🤤pic.twitter.com/mR26Gtjfxd
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) November 20, 2022
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) November 19, 2022
"It’s unbelievable to get this win. We are a special club with special ambition and this is just part of our journey," said man-of-the-match Luke Loughlin afterwards.
The Downs will take on Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster final, after the Dublin champs coasted to victory in the second game of the Croke Park double-header.
Portarlington gave Crokes a very good game last year, only losing by two points at the same stage, but they never got going this time around. Indeed, such was Crokes' dominance in the game that they could even take off Shane Walsh with 25 minutes to go.
Walsh had been struggling with a virus in the lead-up to the game and said afterwards that some of Sean Boylan's 'magic potions' helped him recover in time for the game. He still kicked 0-3, as did Dara Mullin while Andrew McGowan's unorthodox goal gave them plenty of breathing room.