Christy Ring Cup Semi-Final: Down 2-20, Offaly 1-23 (a.e.t.) Down win 3-2 on penalties.
(Report from gaa.ie website)
Down are through to their second consecutive Christy Ring Cup Final after a dramatic game saw them upset the odds against favourites Offaly on penalties in Newry. Goalkeeper and captain Stephen Keith was the hero for Down as they came from 2-0 down to win the shoot-out 3-2 and complete a famous win.
Down had started confidently when Daithí and Eoghan Sands linked up for the latter to kick to the net, but points from Eoghan Cahill and Cillian Kiely and a Shane Kinsella goal, set up by Colm Gath, turned the momentum in favour of Offaly. John McManus had a chance of a second major for Down, with Oisín MacManus converting the resulting ’65. MacManus and Cahill continued to exchange points from frees either side of the first water break, with Offaly hitting the last two scores of the half to lead by the minimum: 1-9 to 1-8.
Offaly were on the front foot for most of the third quarter, with Cahill, Kinsella and David King stretching their lead, although Pearse Óg McCrickard’s third point from play helped keep the hosts in touch, while Cahill blasted a penalty off the woodwork. Even after a rally from the Mourne men, huge efforts from Poc Fada champion Kiely and Cahill had Offaly (who hit the bar again late on) on the brink of victory, but Barry Trainor stepped up with a fine equaliser to make it 1-16 apiece at the end of normal time.
Offaly had subs Adrian Hynes, Thomas Geraghty and Aidan Treacy on target during extra-time, but frees by Paul Sheehan and Conor Woods kept Down on their coat-tails at 1-20 to 1-19 as they changed ends for the last time. The 2019 runners-up regained the lead when Daithí Sands flicked an Eoghan Sands centre into the net, but a Liam Langton brace helped Offaly get back on level terms once again (Down 2-20 Offaly 1-23).
There was even time for yet another shift in momentum during the penalty shoot-out after Cahill (who had been reintroduced late on by Michael Fennelly after having to limp off during extra-time) and Treacy converted two of Offaly’s first three attempts, while Down took until their third to get off the mark. Woods and Caolán Taggart netted to keep Down in contention and after Stephen Keith saved from his opposite number Stephen Corcoran and Kiely, the Down keeper fired home the decisive penalty.
Down: Oisin McManus 0-7 (6f and one ’65’), Eoghan Sands 1-2, Daithi Sands 1-1, Paul Sheehan 0-4 (4f), Pearse Og McCrickard 0-3, Barry Trainor, Conor Woods (f), Donal Hughes 0-1 each. Penalties – Conor Woods, Caolan Taggart, Stephen Keith.
Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-10 (9f), Shane Kinsella 1-2, Cillian Kiely 0-3, Adrian Hynes and Liam Langton (1f) 0-2 each, David King, Peter Geraghty, Aidan Treacy (f) and Thomas Geraghty 0-1 each. Penalties – Eoghan Cahill and Aidan Treacy.
OFFALY: Stephen Corcoran (Coolderry); Ciaran Burke (Durrow), Ben Conneely (St Rynagh’s), Paddy Delaney (Kinnitty); Damien Egan (Belmont), Cillian Kiely (Kilcormac-Killoughey), David King (Coolderry); Eoghan Cahill (Birr), David Nally (Belmont); Oisin Kelly (Belmont), Jason Sampson (Shinrone), Peter Geraghty (Kilcormac-Killoughey); Colm Gath (Drumcullen), Shane Kinsella (Kinnitty), Liam Langton (Clodiagh Gaels). Subs -Dan Doughan (Shinrone) for Burke (H/T), Adrian Hynes (Seir Kieran) for Gath (46m), Brian Duignan (Durrow) for Kelly (52m), Sean Cleary (Shinrone) for Langton (60m), Thomas Geraghty (Kilcormac-Killoughey) for Kinsella (68m), Liam Langton for Cahill (80m), Aidan Treacy (St Rynagh’s) for Nally (80m), Eoghan Cahill for Cleary (91m), s
DOWN: Stephen Keith; Tom Murray, Caolan Taggart, Michael Hughes; Barry Trainor, Conor Woods, Liam Savage; Matt Conlon, John McManus; Donal Hughes, Pearse Og McCrickard, Tim Prenter; Oisin McManus, Eoghan Sands, Daithi Sands. Subs – Phelim Savage for Prenter (47m), Paul Sheehan for Murray (50m), Ronan Costello for Oisin McManus (55m), Mark Fisher for McCrickard (60m), Chris Egan for Daithi Sands (68m), Ryan McCusker for Donal Hughes (75m), Daithi Sands for Trainor (80m), Pearse Og McCrickard for Costello (81m), Tim Prenter for Michael Hughes (84m).
Referee – Sean Stack.