Down fight past Derry in semi replay

Down 0-25 Derry 1-16, Athletic Grounds

Down fight past Derry in semi replay

Down 0-25 Derry 1-16, Athletic Grounds

Free-taker Paul Braniff led the scoring with 0-12, including four points from play, as Down fought past Derry in today's Ulster SHC semi-final replay at the Athletic Grounds.

Derry showed their battling qualities as they recovered from having their goal scorer Aaron Kelly sent-off in the 27th minute for an off-the-ball incident involving Down corner back Paddy Hughes.

Paul Sheehan, James Coyle and Braniff were among the early scorers as Down opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead in humid conditions, with temperatures touching 27 degrees Celsius. Kevin Hinphey registered Derry's first point.

The heat took its toll on the game yet Derry hung in there with Kerry's goal cutting the gap back to two points - 0-9 to 1-4 - although his subsequent dismissal for a straight red card offence left them with a huge task.

The Oak Leafers were still only 0-12 to 1-5 behind at the break but Down, who struggled in the second half of the drawn game, were not going to let this lead slip.

The scoring contributions of Braniff and midfielder Donal Hughes, who landed five points from play, were crucial for the recently crowned Christy Ring Cup champions. Braniff opened the second period with two quick-fire points.

14-man Derry kept the scoreboard ticking over in the final 35 minutes with half-time substitutes Mark Craig and Paddy Henry scoring 0-10 apiece. Hard-working wing forward Tiernan McCloskey also chipped in with his second point of the afternoon.

However, there was no denying Gerard Monan's side, who advance to meet Antrim in the decider which will be played at Celtic Park in Derry on a date yet to be confirmed.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, Monan said: "We weren't very happy with how we played last week but we responded the way we know we can.

"The boys showed what they're capable of. We could have got an extra goal or two. Themselves, they were disappointed to nearly finish off the season last week not showing what they're capable of."

DOWN: S Keith; M Conlon, P Flynn, P Hughes; F Conway, C Woods, M Ennis; D Hughes (0-5), E Clarke; K McGarry (0-2), P Braniff (0-12, 0-8f), P Sheehan (0-1); D Toner, G Johnson, J Coyle (0-3).

Subs used: M Turley (0-1) for Toner (49 mins), J McCusker (0-1) for McGarry (52), B Nicholson for Conlon (57), L McMullan for Coyle (63), C Hughes for Ennis (65).

DERRY: D McDermott; D McCloskey, P Kelly, J McCloskey; R McCloskey, L Hinphey, M O'Hagan; O McCloskey, K Hinphey (0-2); B Rodgers (0-1), A Grant (0-1,0-1f), T McCloskey (0-2, 0-1f); P Cleary, B Quigley, A Kelly (1-0).

Subs used: M Craig (0-3) for Quigley, P Henry (0-7, 0-4f) for Cleary (both half-time), S McBride for Rodgers (60 mins).

Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly)

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