Down win passion-filled quarter-final

Down 1-12 Monaghan 0-13

Down 1-12 Monaghan 0-13

The pride, the passion which brought two All-Ireland titles to the Mournes in the early nineties are back.

New manager Paddy O'Rourke, an inspirational All-Ireland winning captain in 1991, presided over what could be the beginning of a Down renaissance at Casement Park, where his side came from behind to score a two points win over Monaghan.

A Michael Walsh goal at the beginning of the second half was the crucial score which sent O'Rourke's young lions through to the Ulster semi-finals, and there were signs that they could go far this season.

For Monaghan, the euphoria of their sensational victory over All-Ireland champions Armagh is now a distant memory, and they now face a trip into the unknown in the Qualfiers series.

Paul Finlay couldn't miss in the opening quarter of an hour, sweeping three free kicks between the posts and adding an excellent point from play.

The intelligent running of the Freeman brothers, Thomas and Damien, gave Monaghan extra options and a clear advantage over Down's one-dimensional approach.

But the Mourne men remained in touch during the opening quarter, Gregory McCartan, Liam Doyle and Colm McCrickard all on target.

A devastating five-minute spell, during which they hit five points without reply, eased the Farney county into a four points lead, the blitz sparked by a storming run and accurate finish from defender Anthony Rooney.

Michael Slowey, Thomas Freeman and the ever-reliable Finlay were also on target, but Down, with John Lavery and Martin Cole helping them build from the back, turned the tide.

Lavery pressed forward to shoot a point and Doyle struck three points, two from frees, to narrow the gap to just two points at the break, Monaghan ahead by 0-9 to 0-7.

In an explosive start to the second half, Michael Walsh blasted home a Down goal after Ronan Murtagh's effort had been charged down by Pauric McKenna, and points from Lavery and McCartan gave them a three points advantage.

Eoin Lennon and Jason Hughes had surrendered midfield control to McCartan and Sean Ward, but managed to reassert themselves in the final quarter as Colm Coyle's side battled their way back to within a point, with scores from Finlay and Raymond Ronaghan.

Down introduced 1991 All-Ireland hero James McCartan, who instantly kicked a wonderful point.

Monaghan's scoring touch deserted them, a series of bad wides leaving their supporters in the 22,000-strong crowd frustrated, as they headed for the back door.

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