DOWN 3-15 MONAGHAN 1-14
No matter how badly they wanted it, it was just not meant to be for Monaghan’s grieving U20s, who suffered a heart-breaking extra-time defeat as Down were crowned Ulster champions on an emotional night.
Monaghan wanted to honour their captain Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh, who was killed in a car accident hours after the semi-final win over Donegal two weeks ago.
Ó Dufaigh’s parents and sisters were at Friday night’s game in the Athletic Grounds. And before presenting the Cup to Down amid emotional scenes, Ulster Council vice-chairman Ciaran McLaughlin thanked Ó Dufaigh’s family for their attendance and told the Monaghan players their captain would be looking down on them with pride.
Down were the dominant team in extra-time scoring 1-4 while holding Monaghan scoreless. It was their first title at this level since 2009.
Earlier, Down skipper Shealan Johnston, Tom Smyth, Anthony Morgan, Peter McMullan, and O’Hare all kicked points from play and they led by a goal, 1-5 to 0-5, after the first water break.
They were outscored 1-4 to 0-2 in the second quarter, Sean Jones responsible for three points, helping Monaghan to lead 1-9 to 1-7 at half-time.
Sub Andrew Gilmore claimed a spectacular second Down goal in the 48th minute.
Monaghan were two points down with a minute of normal time remaining but found another gear with sub Kyle Connolly and then Jones’ free taking it to extra-time, drawing Monaghan level at 1-14 to 2-11.
Down led after the first half of extra-time 2-13 to 1-14 and would extend the lead.
Scorers for Monaghan: S Jones 0-8 (3f), D McElearney 1-1, J Irwin 0-2, R Boyle, D Swinburne, K Connolly.
Scorers for Down: A Gilmore 1-3 (2f), R O’Hare 1-2, J Clarke 1-0, C Smyth 0-2 (2f), T Smyth 0-2, S Johnston 0-2 (1f), A Morgan, D Magill, P McMullan, S Croskey 0-1 each
MONAGHAN: R Farrelly; R Grimes (c), T McPhillips, R Boyle; D McElearney, M Hamill, S Hanratty; G McPhillips, J Wilson; D Treanor, J Irwin, M Meehan; S Slevin, D Swinburne, S Jones.
Subs: K Connolly for Slevin (44), J McGeown for Hamill (52), O O’Hanlon for Meehan (55), J Doogan for McPhillips (57), L McDonald for Irwin (60), J Irwin for Wilson (69), M Hamill for O’Hanlon (71), R Hanratty for Jones (75)
DOWN: C Smyth; T Fettes, R Magill, P McCarthy; T Smyth, L Toal, A Morgan; O Murdock, T Close; D Magill, S Johnston (c), J McGovern; P McMullan, E Brown, R O’Hare.
Subs: A Gilmore for Brown (39), S Og McCusker for Fettes (47), J Clarke for Smyth (56), S Croskey for McGovern (60), J McGovern for Magill (76), P Brooks for McCarthy (80)
Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone)