Major success for the Minors: Down win the All-Ireland C title and Armagh book their place in the last four

Down Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAADown Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAA
Down Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAA
​All-Ireland MFC C Final: Down U17 4-13 Westmeath U17 1-18

​Saturday was a memorable day at Kingspan Breffni Park for Down U17 Minor team and their families and supporters where they defeated Westmeath to claim the All-Ireland C Championship Title and the Seamus Heaney Cup.

Goals from Down captain Barra McEvoy and Paul McGovern kept them in contention in the first half, as their opponents were more proficient in the points department, leading 2-5 to 0-12 at the break and Westmeath moved three-points clear before McEvoy netted for a second time to level the game at 3-6 to 0-15. Westmeath cancelled that goal out with one of their own midway through the half but Down battled back to draw level again until a McGovern penalty gave the Mourne side a two-point lead. That was the game-changer as Down pulled away at the business end and were four points clear when the final whistle blew.

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Westmeath opened the scoring with a free from James McHugh in the second minute but Kilcoo player and captain McEvoy replied in kind and Liam Blaney nudged Down in front also from a free. McHugh kept the pattern going, levelling from a free and Andrew Henson gave Westmeath a narrow lead with the first from play.

Down Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAADown Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAA
Down Minors were crowned All-Ireland C Champions after beating Westmeath at Kingspan Breffni Park. Picture: Down GAA

McHugh was a thorn in the side for Down with the next four points, three from frees to give his side an 0-7 to 0-2 advantage but with 15 minutes on the clock, McGovern reduced the deficit to two points with his first goal.

There was no shaking Westmeath however, who wiped the goal out with the next three points – two from McHugh frees – before McEvoy, McGovern and traded points between O’Brien and Blaney made it it 0-11 to 1-5.

It looked like Westmeath were heading into half-time with a commanding lead with another point from Darragh Lough but McEvoy scored his first and Down’s second goal on 26 minutes to make it a one-point game at the break.

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Westmeath began the second half as they did the first with McHugh and O’Brien stretching their lead but Down sub Adam McCann Gibbs replied. Henson restored the three-point margin but 12 minutes into the half, McEvoy hit the net again to level the match 3-6 to 0-15.

That maximum was cancelled out a minute later with William Scahill hitting the net at the other end and Henson extended their lead to four when he tagged on a point but this time Down dug their heels in with sub James O’Hanlon pointing, McEvoy (two) and McGovern levelling proceedings 3-10 to 1-16 before McHugh scored another free to edge Westmeath in front again.

McGovern scored from the penalty spot with five minutes left on the clock however and that spurred Down on with a brace of points from Darragh Poland and traded scores from McHugh and McGovern sealing the 4-13 to 1-18 victory for Down.

The celebrations began in earnest for the Mourne counties with McEvoy lofting the Seamus Heaney Cup high in the Breffni stand and the team proudly taking it back up the road where the party continued.

MATCH STATS

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Down team: Callum Travers; Shane McParland, Oisin Murphy, Aaron McClelland; Cormac Small, Jon Rodgers, Lorcan Lynch; Dan McKernan, Liam Blaney (0-2,1f); Conor Ward, Darragh Poland (0-2), Paul McGovern (2-3); Daniel Carr, Barra McEvoy (2-4,1f), Charlie McGrath

Subs: Adam McCann-Gibbs (0-1) for McParland (28mins), Lorcan Murray for McGrath (40mins), James O’Hanlon (0-1) for McKernan (41mins), Fionn McCaul for Rodgers (49mins), Eoin McCaffrey for Murphy (52mins).

Armagh book their place in the last four with a dominant win

​All-Ireland MFC A Quarter-final: Armagh U17 1-16 Longford U17 1-3

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Armagh Minors cruised past Longford by 13 points on Saturday to book their place in the last four of the All-Ireland Championship for the first time since 2009, the last year they won the competition.

Armagh lost out against Derry in a heart-breaking two-point loss in the Ulster final, but they showed no signs of a hangover, as they comfortably dispatched the Leinster champions at Breffni Park.

Diarmuid O’Rourke had a fantastic day, finishing with 0-6, and he opened the game’s scoring, before Armagh moved into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead.

However, on 17 minutes Longford hit the net when Joshua Marsh’s shot was blocked, but Luke Donnelly fired home on the rebound.

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That made it 1-2 to 0-4 in the Leinster side’s favour, but from that point on it was total domination from the Orchard County.

Points from Fionn Toale, O’Rourke and Conall Wilson steadied the ship, before Armagh found the net themselves on 29 minutes.

Wilson drove the ball forward on a solo run and laid it off at the right moment for the team’s captain Shea Loughran, and he drilled the ball low and hard into the bottom corner to give his side a five-point cushion at the half-time whistle.

Armagh remained in control throughout the entirety of the second half, which they won 0-9 to 0-1.

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At the beginning of the second half, O’Rourke nailed two frees, Toale fisted over a point and Keelan McEntee found the target to push Armagh’s lead out nine.

Longford did get one score from a free – which was there first score for 34 minutes – but Armagh claimed the last five points of the game via Loughran (two), Wilson, O’Rourke and Aaron Garvey.

MATCH STATS

Armagh: Michael Finnegan, Tomas Fox, Gavin O’Rourke, Conall Wilson 0-3, Fergus Toale, Sean Woods, Diarmuid O’Rourke 0-6 (3f), Jack Loughran, Daithi O’Callaghan, Ross Marsden 0-1, James McCooe, Keelan McEntee 0-1, Fionn Toale 0-2, Eoin Duffy, Shea Loughran 1-2.

Subs: Aaron Garvey 0-1 for R. Marsden, Oisin Gribben for E. Duffy, Danny McGee for T. Fox, Lewis Bellew for J. McCooe.

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Longford: James Ross, Alan Mimnagh, Conor McHugh, Darragh Mulligan, Conor Doherty, Mark Cooney, Ben Blessington, Sean Fagan, Peter Farrell, Oisin Kane, Cian O’Donnell, James Shannon, Luke Donnelly 1-1, Joshua Marsh, James Hagan 0-1.

Subs: Cormac Flynn for B. Blessington, Karl O’Hare for P. Farrell, Michael Gleenon for J. Marsh, Keelan Hudson for O. Kane, Liam Greene for J Shannon.

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